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The remains of Robert the Second
were committed to the sepulchre in
the Abbey of Scone; and on the 14th
August 1390, being the morning suc­
ceeding the funeral, the coronation of
his successor, John, earl of Carrick,
took place, with circumstances of great
pomp and solemnity1 Next day,
which was the Assumption of the
Virgin, his wife,AnnabellaDrummond,
countess of Carrick, a daughter of
the noble house of Drummond, was
crowned queen; and on the following
morning, the assembled prelates and
nobles, amidst a great concourse of
the people, took their oaths of alle­
giance, when it was agreed that the
king should change his name to that
of Robert the Third; the appellative
John, from its associations with Baliol,
being considered ominous and un­

The character of the monarch was
not essentially different from that of
his predecessor. It was amiable, and
far from wanting in sound sense and
discretion; but the accident which
had occasioned his lameness, unfitted
him for excelling in those martial ex-

1 Winton, vol. ii. pp. 361, 362. Fordun a
Goodal, vol. ii. p. 418. Chamberlain Accounts,
vol. ii. p. 196. The funeral expenses amounted
to £253, 19s. 9d.

ercises which were then necessary to
secure the respect of his nobility, and
compelled him to seek his happiness
in pacific pursuits and domestic en­
dearments, more likely to draw upon
him the contempt of his nobles than
any more kindly feelings. The name
of king, too, did not bring with it, in
this instance, that high hereditary
honour which, had Robert been the
representative of a long line of princes,
must necessarily have attached to it.
He was only the second king of a new
race; the proud barons who surrounded
his throne had but lately seen his
father and himself in their own rank ;
had associated with them as their
equals, and were little prepared to
surrender, to a dignity of such recent
creation, the homage or the awe which
the person on whom it had fallen did
not command by his own virtues.
Yet the king appears to have been dis­
tinguished by many admirable quali­
ties. He possessed an inflexible love
of justice, and an affection for his
people, which were evinced by every
measure where he was suffered to fol­
low the dictates of his own heart; he
was aware of the miseries which the
country had suffered by the long con­
tinuance of war, and he saw clearly
that peace was the first and best bless-

2                                       HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

ing which his government could be­
stow, and for the establishment and
continuance of which almost every
sacrifice should be made. The sound­
ness of these views could not be
doubted. They were the dictates of
a clear and correct thinking mind,
which, confined by circumstances to
thoughtfulness and retirement, had
discovered the most judicious line of
policy, when all around it was turbu­
lence and error, and a few centuries
later they would have been hailed as
the highest virtues in a sovereign.

But Robert was wanting in that
combination of qualities which could
alone have enabled him to bring these
higher principles into action; and this
is explained in a single word, when it
has been said he was unwarlike. The
sceptre required to be held in a firm
hand; and to restrain the outrages of
a set of nobles so haughty as those
who then domineered over Scotland,
it was absolutely necessary that the
king should possess somewhat of that
fierce energy which distinguished
themselves. Irresolution, timidity,
and an anxious desire to conciliate the
affection of all parties, induced him to
abandon the most useful designs, be­
cause they opposed the selfishness, or
threatened to abridge the power, of
his barons; and this weakness of char­
acter was ultimately productive of
fatal effects in his own family, and
throughout the kingdom. It hap­
pened also, unfortunately for the peace
of the community, that his father had
delegated the chief power of the state
to his brothers, the Earls of Fife and of
Buchan, committing the general man­
agement of all public affairs, with the
title of Governor, to the first; 1 and
permitting the Earl of Buchan to rule
over the northern parts of the king­
dom, with an authority little less than
regal. The first of these princes had
long evinced a restless ambition, which
had been increased by the early pos­
session of power; but his character
began now to discover those darker
shades of crime, which grew deeper as
he advanced in years. The Earl of

1 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. pp. 165,

Buchan, on the other hand, was little
less than a cruel and ferocious savage,
a species of Celtic Attila, whose com­
mon appellation of the “ Wolf of
Badenoch,” is sufficiently character­
istic of the dreadful attributes which
composed his character, and who issued
from his lair in the north, like the
devoted instrument of the Divine
wrath, to scourge and afflict the nation.
On the morning after the coronation,
a little incident occurred, which is in­
dicative of the gentle character of the
king, and illustrates the simple man­
ners of the times. The fields and
enclosures round the monastery had
been destroyed by the nobles and
their retinue; and as it happened
during the harvest, when the crops
were ripe, the mischief fell heavily on
the monks. A canon of the order,
who filled the office of storekeeper,
demanded an audience of the king, for
the purpose of claiming some compen­
sation ; but on announcing his errand,
the chamberlain dismissed him with
scorn. The mode in which he re­
venged himself was whimsical and
extraordinary. Early on the morning
after the coronation, before the king
had awoke, the priest assembled a
motley multitude of the farm-servants
and villagers belonging to the monas­
tery, who, bearing before them an
image stuffed with straw, and armed
with the drums, horns, and rattles
which they used in their rustic festi­
vals, took their station under the win­
dows of the royal bed-chamber, and at
once struck up such a peal of yells,
horns, rattles, and dissonant music,
that the court awoke in terror and
dismay. The priest who led the rout
was instantly dragged before the king,
and asked what he meant. “Please
your majesty,” said he, “ what you
have just heard are our rural carols,
in which we indulge when our crops
are brought in; and as you and your
nobles have spared us the trouble and
expense of cutting them down this
season, we thought it grateful to give
you a specimen of our harvest jubilee.”
The freedom and sarcasm of the answer
would have been instantly punished
by the nobles; but the king under-

1390-8.]                                          ROBERT III.                                                    3

stood and pardoned the reproof, or­
dered an immediate inquiry into the
damage done to the monastery, and
not only paid the full amount, but
applauded the humour and courage of
the ecclesiastic.1

It was a melancholy proof of the
gentle and indolent character of this
monarch that, after his accession to
the throne, the general management
of affairs, and even the name of Gover­
nor,2 were still intrusted to the Earl
of Fife, who for a while continued to
pursue such measures as seemed best
calculated for the preservation of the
public prosperity. The truce of Leil-
inghen, which had been entered into
between France and England in 1389,
and to which Scotland had become a
party, was again renewed,3 and at the
same time it was thought expedient
that the league with France, concluded
between Charles the Sixth and Robert
the Second in 1371, should be pro­
longed and ratified by the oath of the
king,4 so that the three countries ap­
peared to be mutually desirous of
peace. Upon the part of England,
every precaution seems to have been
taken to prevent any infractions of
the truce. The Scottish commerce
was protected; all injuries committed
upon the Borders were directed to be
investigated and redressed by the
Lords Wardens; safe-conducts to the
nobles, the merchants, and the stu­
dents of Scotland, who were desirous
of residing in or travelling through
England, were readily granted ; and
every inclination was shewn to pave
the way for the settlement of a lasting
peace.5 Upon the part of Scotland,
these wise measures were met by a
spirit equally conciliatory; and for
eight years, the period for which the
truce was prolonged, no important war-

1 Fordun a Hearne, vol. iv. pp. 1111, 1112.

2 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 165.
“Et Comiti de Fyf: Custodi regni pro officio
Custodis percipient: mille marcas per an­
num.” Ibid. pp. 261, 267.

3 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. vii. p. 622. Rotuli
Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 103, 105.

4 Records of the Parliament of Scotland, sub
anno 1390, p. 136. Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii.
p. 98.

5 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 99,100,101.103,

like operations took place : a blessed
and unusual cessation, in which the
country began to breathe anew, and to
devote itself to the pursuits of peace.
So happy a state of things was first
interrupted by the ferocity of the
“ Wolf of Badenoch,” and the disorders
of the northern parts of the kingdom;
On some provocation given to Buchan
by the Bishop of Moray, this chief
descended from his mountains, and
after laying waste the country with a
sacrilege which excited unwonted hor­
ror, sacked and plundered the cathe­
dral of Elgin, carrying off its chalices
and vestments, polluting its shrines
with blood, and, finally, setting fire to
the noble pile, which, with the ad­
joining houses of the canons and the
neighbouring town, were burnt to the
ground.6 This exploit of the father
was only a signal for a more serious
incursion, conducted by his natural
son, Duncan Stewart, whose manners
were worthy of his descent, and who,
at the head of a wild assemblage of
ketherans, armed only with the sword
and target, broke across the range of
hills which divide the counties of
Aberdeen and Forfar, and began to
destroy the country and murder the
inhabitants with reckless and in­
discriminate cruelty. Sir Walter
Ogilvy, then Sheriff of Angus, along
with Sir Patrick Gray, and Sir
David Lindsay of Glenesk, instantly
collected their power, and although
far inferior in numbers, trusting to
the temper of their armour, attacked
the mountaineers at Gasklune, near
the Water of Isla.7 But they were
almost instantly overwhelmed, the
Highlanders fighting with a ferocity
and a contempt of life, which seem to
have struck a panic into their steel-
clad assailants. Ogilvy, with his
brother, Wat of Lichtoune, Young of
Ouchterlony, the Lairds of Cairncross,
Forfar, and Guthrie, were slain, and

6  Winton, vol. ii. p. 363. Keith’s Catalogue,
p. 83. See Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii.p.355.

7  Winton, Chron. vol. ii. pp. 368, 369. For-
dun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 420. Glenbreret,
where this writer affirms the battle to have
been fought, is Glenbrierachan, about eleven
miles north of Gasklune. Macpherson' Notes
on Winton. p. 517.

4                                       HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

sixty men-at-arms along with them;
whilst Sir Patrick Gray and Sir David
Lindsay were grievously wounded, and
with difficulty carried off the field.
The indomitable fierceness of the
mountaineers is strikingly shewn by an
anecdote preserved by Winton. Lind­
say had pierced one of these, a brawny
and powerful man, through the body
with his spear, and thus apparently
pinned him to the earth; but although
mortally wounded, and in the agonies
of death, he writhed himself up by
main strength, and, with the weapon
in his body, struck Lindsay a desperate
blow with his sword, which cut him
through the stirrup and steel-boot into
the bone, after which his assailant in­
stantly sunk down and expired.1

These dreadful excesses, committed
by a brother and nephew of the king,
called for immediate redress; and it
is a striking evidence of the internal
weakness of the government, that they
passed unheeded, and were succeeded
by private feuds amongst the nobility,
with whom the most petty disputes
became frequently the causes of cruel
and deadly revenge. A quarrel of
this kind had occurred between the
Lady of Fivy, wife to Sir David Lind­
say, and her nephew, Robert Keith, a
baron of great power. It arose from
a trifling misunderstanding between
some masons and the servants of
Keith regarding a watercourse, but it
concluded in this fierce chief besieging
his aunt in her castle; upon which
Lindsay, who was then at court, flew
to her rescue, and encountering Keith
at Garvyach, compelled him to raise
the siege, with the loss of sixty of his
men, who were slain on the spot.2

Whilst the government was dis­
graced by the occurrence of such de­
liberate acts of private war in the low
country, the Highlanders prepared to
exhibit an extraordinary spectacle.
Two numerous clans, or septs, known
by the names of the clan Kay, and the
clan Quhete,3 having long been at

1 Winton, vol. ii. p. 369. Extracta ex
Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. folio 240.

2 Winton, vol. ii. p. 372.

3 Clan Quete or clan Chattan. The clan
Kay is thought to have been the clan Dhai—
the Davidsons, a sept of the M’Pherson.

deadly feud, their mutual attacks
were carried on with that ferocity
which at this period distinguished the
Celtic race from the more southern
inhabitants of Scotland. The ideas
of chivalry, the factitious principles of
that system of manners from which
we derive our modern code of honour,
had hitherto made little progress
amongst them; but the more inti­
mate intercourse between the northern
and southern portions of the kingdom,
and the residence of the lowland
barons amongst them, appear to have
introduced a change; and the notions
of the Norman knights becoming more
familiar to the mountaineers, they
adopted the singular idea of deciding
their quarrel by a combat of thirty
against thirty. This project, instead
of discouragement, met with the ap­
proval of the government, who were
happy that a scheme should have sug­
gested itself, by which there was some
prospect of the leaders in those fierce
and endless disputes being cut off. A
day having been appointed for the
combat, barriers were raised in the
level ground of the North Inch of
Perth, and in the presence of the king
and a large concourse of the nobility,
sixty tall athletic Highland soldiers,
armed in the fashion of their country,
with bows and arrows, sword and
target, short knives and battle-axes,
entered the lists, and advanced in
mortal array against each other ; but
at this trying moment the courage of
one of the clan Chattan faltered, and,
as the lines were closing, he threw
himself into the Tay, swam across the
river, and fled to the woods. All was
now at a stand : with the inequality
of numbers the contest could not pro­
ceed ; and the benevolent monarch,
who had suffered himself to be per­
suaded against his better feelings, was
about to break up the assembly, when
a stout burgher of Perth, an armourer
by trade, sprung within the barriers,
and declared that for half a mark
he would supply the place of the de­
serter. The offer was accepted, and a
dreadful contest ensued. Undefended
by armour, and confined within a
narrow space, the Highlanders fought

1390-8.]                                        ROBERT III.                                                      5

with a ferocity which nothing could
surpass; whilst the gashes made by
the daggers and battle-axes, and the
savage yells of the combatants, com­
posed a scene altogether new and ap­
palling to many French and English
knights, who were amongst the spec­
tators, and to whom, it may be easily
imagined, the contrast between this
cruel butchery, and the more polished
and less fatal battles of chivalry, was
striking and revolting. At last a
single combatant of the clan Kay
alone remained, whilst eleven of their
opponents, including the bold ar­
mourer, were still able to wield their
weapons; upon which the king threw
down his gage, and the victory was
awarded to the clan Quhete. The
leaders in this savage combat are said
to have been Shaw, the son of Farqu-
hard, who headed the clan Kay, and
Cristijohnson, who headed the victors;1
but these names, which have been
preserved by our contemporary chro­
niclers, are in all probability corrupted
from the original Celtic. After this
voluntary immolation of their bravest
warriors, the Highlanders for a long
time remained quiet within their
mountains; and the Earl of Moray
and Sir James Lindsay, by whom this
expedient for allaying the feuds is
said to have been encouraged, con­
gratulated themselves on the success
of their project. Soon after this, the
management of the northern parts of
the kingdom2 was committed to the
care of David, earl of Carrick, the
king’s eldest son, who, although still a
youth in his seventeenth year, and
with the faults incident to a proud
and impatient temper, evinced an
early talent for government, which,
under proper cultivation, might have
proved a blessing to the country.

For some years after this, the cur­
rent of events is of that quiet char­
acter which offers little prominent or

1 Winton, vol. ii. pp. 373, 374, and Notes,
p. 518. Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 420.

2 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 349.
“ Et Dno. Comiti de Carrick de donacione
regis pro expensis suis factis in partibus
borealibus per tempus compoti: ut patet per
literas regis concessas super has, testante
clerico probacionis, 40 li.”

interesting. The weakness of the go­
vernment of Richard the Second, the
frenzy of the French king, the pacific
disposition of the Scottish monarch,
and the character of the Earl of Fife,
his chief minister, who, although am­
bitious and intriguing, was unwarlike,
all contributed to secure to Scotland
the blessing of peace. The truce with
England was renewed from year to
year, and the intercourse between the
two countries warmly encouraged; the
nobility, the merchants, the students
of Scotland, received safe-conducts,
and travelled into England for the
purposes of pleasure, business, or
study, or to visit the shrines of the
most popular saints ; and the rivalry
between the two nations was no longer
called forth in mortal combats, but in
those less fatal contests, by which the
restless spirits of those times, in the
absence of real war, kept up their
military experience by an imitation of
it in tilts and tournaments. An en­
thusiastic passion for chivalry now
reigned in both countries, and, unless
we make allowance for the universal
influence of this singular system, no
just estimate can be formed of the
manners of the times. Barons who
were sage in council, and high in civil
or military office, would leave the
business of the state, and interrupt
the greatest transactions, to set off
upon a tour of Adventures, having the
king’s royal letters, permitting them
to “ perform points of arms, and mani­
fest their prowess to the world.”
Wortley, an English knight of great
reputation, arrived in Scotland; and,
after a courteous reception at court,
published his cartel of defiance, which
was taken up by Sir James Douglas of
Strathbrock, and the trial of arms ap­
pointed to be held in presence of the
king at Stirling; but after the lists
had been prepared, some unexpected
occurrence appears to have prevented
the duel from taking place.3 Sir
David Lindsay of Glenesk, who was
then reputed one of the best soldiers
in Scotland, soon after the accession
of Robert the Third sent his cartel to

3 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 366.
Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii, p. 421.

6                                        HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

the Lord Wells, an English knight of
the court of Richard the Second,
which having been accepted, the duel
was appointed to take place in London
in presence of the king. So impor­
tant did Lindsay consider the affair,
that he freighted a vessel belonging to
Dundee1 to bring him from London a
new suit of armour; and, when the
day arrived, at the head of a splendid
retinue he entered the lists, which
were crowded by the assembled nobles
and beauties of the court. In the first
course the English knight was borne
out of his saddle; and Lindsay, al­
though rudely struck, kept his seat so
firmly, that a cry rose amongst the
crowd, who insisted he was tied to his
steed, upon which he vaulted to the
ground, and, although encumbered by
his armour, without touching the
stirrup, again sprung into the saddle.
Both the knights, after the first
course, commenced a desperate foot
combat with their daggers, which con-
cluded in the total discomfiture of
Lord Wells. Lindsay, who was a man
of great personal strength, having
struck his dagger firmly into one of
the lower joints of his armour, lifted
him into the air, and gave him so
heavy a fall, that he lay at his mercy.
He then, instead of putting him to
death, a privilege which the savage
laws of these combats at outrance con­
ferred upon the victor, courteously
raised him from the ground, and, lead­
ing him below the ladies’ gallery, de­
livered him as her prisoner to the
Queen of England.2

Upon another occasion, in one of
those tournaments, an accomplished
baron, named Piers Courtney, made
his appearance, who bore upon his
surcoat a falcon, with the distich,—
“ I bear a falcon fairest in flycht, whoso
prikketh at her his death is dicht, in
graith.” To his surprise he found
in the lists an exact imitation of him­
self in the shape of a Scottish knight,
with the exception, that instead of a

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 104.

2 Winton, vol. ii. pp. 355, 356, 357. For-
dun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 422. Lindsay, in
gratitude for his victory, founded an altar
in the parish church of Dundee. Extracta
ex Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. fol. 243.

falcon, his surcoat bore a jay, with an
inscription ludicrously rhyming to the
defiance of Courtney,—"I bear a pyet
peikand at ane pees,3 quhasa pykkis at
her I sall pyk at his nees,4 in faith.”
The challenge could not be mistaken;
and the knights ran two courses
against each other, in each of which
the helmet of the Scot, from being
loosely strapped, gave way, and foiled
the attaint of Courtney, who, having
lost two of his teeth by his adversary ’s
spear, loudly complained of the occur­
rence, and insisted that the laws of
arms made it imperative on both
knights to be exactly on equal terms.
“ I am content,'’ said the Scot, “ to run
six courses more on such an agreement,
and let him who breaks it forfeit two
hundred pounds.” The challenge was
accepted; upon which he took off his
helmet, and, throwing back his thick
hair, shewed that he was blind of an
eye, which he had lost by a wound in
the battle of Otterburn. The agree­
ment made it imperative on Courtney
to pay the money, or to submit to lose
an eye; and it may readily be imagined
that Sir Piers, a handsome man, pre­
ferred the first to the last alternative.5
The title of duke, a dignity origin­
ally Norman, had been brought from
France into England; and we now
find it for the first time introduced
into Scotland in a parliament held by
Robert the Third at Perth, on the
28th of April 1398.6 At this meeting
of the estates, the king, with great
pomp, created his eldest son, David,
earl of Carrick, Duke of Rothesay,
and at the same time bestowed the
dignity of Duke of Albany upon the
Earl of Fife, to whom, since his acces­
sion, he had intrusted almost the
whole management of public affairs.7

3 Pees—piece.                      4 Nees—nose.

5 Fordun a Goodal. vol. ii. p. 423.

6 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 422.

7 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 421.
Et libat: Clerico libacionis, domus Dni nostri
Regis, ad expensas ipsius domus "factas apud
Sconam, et apud Perth tempore quo tentum
fuit Scaccarium, quo eciam tempore tentum
fuit consilium Reg: ibidem super multis
punctis et articulis necessariis pro negotiis
regni, et reipublicæ, £119, 6s. 4d.” The
account goes on to notice the creation of the
Earl of Carrick as Duke of Rothesay, of Fife

1398.]                                             ROBERT III.                                                     7

The age of the heir-apparent rendered
any further continuance of his dele­
gated authority suspicious and un­
necessary. Rothesay was now past
his twentieth year; and his character,
although exhibiting in an immoderate
degree the love of pleasure natural to
his time of life, was yet marked by a
vigour which plainly indicated that he
would not long submit to the superi­
ority of his uncle Albany. From his
earliest years he had been the darling
of his father, and, even as a boy, his
household and establishment appear
to have been kept up with a munifi­
cence which was perhaps imprudent;
yet the affectionate restraints imposed
by his mother the queen, and the con­
trol of William de Drummond, the
governor to whose charge his educa­
tion seems to have been committed,
might have done much for the forma­
tion of his character, had he not been
deprived of both at an early age. It
is a singular circumstance, also, that
the king, although he possessed not
resolution enough to shake off his im­
prudent dependence upon Albany,
evidently dreaded his ambition, and
had many misgivings for the safety of
his favourite son, and the dangers by
which he was surrounded. This may
be inferred from the repeated bands
or covenants for the support and de­
fence of himself and his son and heir
the Earl of Carrick, which were entered
into between this monarch and his
nobles, from the time the prince had
reached his thirteenth year.1

These bands, although in themselves
not unknown to the feudal constitu­
tion, yet were new in so far as they
were agreements, not between subject
and subject, but between the king and
those great vassals who ought to have
been sufficiently bound to support
the crown and the heir-apparent by
the ordinary oaths of homage. It is
in this light that these frequent feudal
covenants, by which any vassal of the
crown, for a salary settled upon him
and his heirs, becomes bound to give
his “ service and support " to the sove-

as Duke of Albany, and of David Lindsay as
Earl of Crawford.
Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 197.

reign and his eldest son the Earl of
Carrick, are to be regarded as a new
feature in the feudal constitution of
the country, importing an increase in
the power of the aristocracy, and a
proportional decrease in the strength
of the crown. There seems, in short,
throughout the whole reign of David
the Second and his successor, to have
been a gradual dislocation of the parts
of the feudal government, which left
the nobles, far more than they had
ever yet been, in the condition of so
many independent princes, whose sup­
port the king could no longer compel
as a right, but was reduced to pur­
chase by pensions. In this way, there
was scarce a baron of any power or
consequence whom Robert had not at­
tempted to bind to his service and
that of his son. The Duke of Albany,
Lord Walter Stewart of Brechin his
brother, Lord Murdoch Stewart, eldest
son of Albany, and afterwards regent
of the kingdom; Sir John Mont­
gomery of Eaglesham, Sir William de
Lindsay, Sir William Stewart of Jed-
burgh, and Sir John de Ramorgny,
were all parties to agreements of this
nature, in which the king, by a charter,
grants to them, and in many instances
to their children, for the whole period
of their lives, certain large sums in
annuity, under the condition of their
defending the king and the Earl of
Carrick, in time of peace as well as
war.2 We shall soon have an opportu­
nity of observing how feeble were such
agreements to insure to the crown the
support and loyal attachment of the
subjects where they happened to
counteract any schemes of ambition
and individual aggrandisement.

In the meantime, the character of
that prince, for whose welfare and
security these alliances were under­
taken, had begun to exhibit an increas­
ing impatience of control, and an eager
desire of power. Elegant in his per­
son, with a sweet and handsome coun­
tenance, excelling in all knightly ac­
complishments, courteous and easy in
his manners, and a devoted admirer
of beauty, Rothesay was the idol of

2 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. pp. 281,
310, 332, 197, 206, 207, 370, 495, 219.

8                                         HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. I.

the populace ; whilst a fondness for
poetry, and a considerable acquaint­
ance with the literature of the age,
gave a superior refinement to his
character, which, as it was little appre­
ciated by a fierce nobility, probably
induced him, in his turn, to treat their
savage ignorance with contempt. He
had already, at an early age, been
familiarised to the management of
public business, and had been engaged
in the settlement of the disturbed
northern districts, and employed as a
commissioner for composing the differ­
ences on the Borders.1 His mother,
the queen, a woman of great sense
and spirit, united her influence to that
of her son; and a strong party was
formed for the purpose of reducing
the power of Albany, and compelling
him to retire from the chief manage­
ment of affairs, and resign his power
into the hands of the prince.

It was represented to the king, and
with perfect truth, that the kingdom
was in a frightful state of anarchy and
disorder; that the administration of
the laws was suspended; those who
loved peace, and were friends to good
order, not knowing where to look for
support; whilst, amid the general con­
fusion, murder, robbery, and every
species of crime, prevailed to an alarm­
ing and dreadful excess. All this had
taken place, it was affirmed, in conse­
quence of the misplaced trust which
had been put into the hands of Albany,
who prostituted his office of governor
to his own selfish designs, and pur­
chased the support of the nobles by
offering them an immunity for their
offences. “ If,” said the friends of
the prince—“ If it is absolutely neces­
sary, from the increasing infirmities
of the king, that he should delegate
his authority to a governor or lieu­
tenant, let his power be transferred to
him to whom it is justly due, the heir-
apparent to the throne; so that the
country be no longer torn and en­
dangered by the ambition of two con­
tending factions, and shocked by the
indecent and undignified spectacle of
perpetual disputes in the royal house-

1 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 349.
Winton, vol. ii. pp. 376, 377.

hold.” These representations, and the
increasing strength of the party of the
prince, convinced Albany that it would
be prudent for the present to give way
to the secret wishes of the king and
the open ambition of Rothesay, and
to resign that office of governor,
which he could no longer retain with

A parliament was accordingly held
at Perth on the 27th of January 1398,
of which the proceedings are interest­
ing and important; and it is fortunate
that a record has been lately disco­
vered,2 which contains a full account
of this meeting of the three estates. It
is declared, in the first place, that the
“ misgovernance of the realm, and the
defaults in the due administration of
the laws, are to be imputed to the
king and his ministers;3 and if, there­
fore, the king chooses to excuse his
own mismanagement, he is bound to
be answerable for his officers, whom
he must summon and arraign before
his council, whose decision is to be
given after they have made their de­
fence, seeing no man ought to be con­
demned before he is called and openly

After this preamble, in which it is
singular at this early period to see
clearly announced the principle of the
king’s responsibility through his min­
isters, it is declared, that since the
king, for sickness of his person, is not
able to labour in the government of
the realm, nor to restrain “ tresspass-
ours,” the council have judged it ex­
pedient that the Duke of Rothesay
should be the king’s lieutenant gene­
rally throughout the land for the term
of three years, having full power in
all things, equally as if he were him­
self the king, under the condition that
he is to be obliged, by his oath, to

2  This valuable manuscript Record of the
Parliament 1398, was politely communicated
to me by Mr Thomson, Deputy-clerk Register,
to whom we owe its discovery. It will be
printed in the first volume of the Acts of the
Parliament of Scotland. It appears not to
be an original record, but a contemporaneous
translation from the Latin original, now lost.

3  Skene, in his statutes of Robert the Third,
p. 59, has suppressed the words, "sulde be
imputyt to the kyng.” His words are, “sulde
be imput to the king’s officiars.”

1398.]                                            ROBERT III.                                                    9

administer the office according to the
directions of the Council-General; or,
in absence of the parliament, with the
advice of a council of experienced and
faithful men, of whom the principal
are to be the Duke of Albany, and
Walter Stewart, lord of Brechin, the
Bishops of St Andrews, Glasgow, and
Aberdeen, and the Earls of Douglas,
Ross, Moray, and Crawford. To these
were added, the Lord of Dalkeith, the
Constable Sir Thomas Hay, the Mar­
shal Sir William Keith, Sir Thomas
Erskine, Sir Patrick Graham, Sir John
Levingston, Sir William Stewart, Sir
John of Ramorgny, Adam Forester,
along with the Abbot of Holyrood,
the Archdean of Lothian, and Mr Wal­
ter Forester. It was next directed, that
the different members of this council
should take an oath to give to the
young regent “lele counsail, for the
common profit of the realm, nocht
havande therto fede na frendschyp; “
and that the duke himself be sworn
to fulfil everything which the king, in
his coronation oath, had promised to
Holy Kirk and the people. These
duties of the king were summarily
explained to consist in the upright
administration of the laws; the main­
tenance of the old manners and cus­
toms for the people; the restraining
and punishing of all manslayers,
reifars, brennars, and generally all
strong and masterful misdoers; and
more especially in the seizing and put­
ting down of all cursed or excommu­
nicated men and heretics.

Such being the full powers com­
mitted to the regent, provision was
made against an abuse very common
in those times. The king, it was de­
clared, shall be obliged not to “let
or hinder the prince in the execution
of his office by any counter-orders, as
has hitherto happened; and if such
were given, the lieutenant was not to
be bound either to return an answer
or to obey them.” It was next directed
by the parliament that whatever mea­
sures were adopted, or orders issued,
in the execution of this office, should
be committed to writing, with the
date of the day and place, and the
names of the councillors by whose

advice they were adopted, so that each
councillor may be ready to answer for
his own deed, and, if necessary, sub­
mit to the punishment which, in the
event of its being illegal, should be
adjudged by the council-general. It
was determined in the same parlia­
ment that the prince, in the discharge
of his duties as lieutenant, was to have
the same salary allowed him as that
given to the Duke of Albany, his pre­
decessor in the office of regent, at the
last council-general held at Stirling.
With regard to the relations with
foreign powers, it was resolved that
an embassy, or, as it is singularly
called, “a great message,'’ be de­
spatched to France, and that commis­
sioners should be appointed to treat at
Edinburgh of the peace with England,
to determine whether the truce of
twenty-eight years should be accepted
or not.

On the subject of finance, a general
contribution of eleven thousand pounds
was raised for the common necessities
of the kingdom, of which the clergy
agreed to contribute their share, under
protestation that it did not prejudice
them in time to come; and the said
contribution was directed to be levied
upon all goods, cattle, and lands, as
well demesne as other lands, excepting
white sheep, riding-horses, and oxen
for labour. With regard to the bur­
gesses who were resident beyond the
Forth, it was stated that they must
contribute to this tax, as well as those
more opulent burghers who dwelt in
the south, upon protestation that their
ancient laws and free customs should
be preserved; that they should be
required to pay only the same duties
upon wool, hides, and skins, as in the
time of King Robert last deceased,
and be free from all tax upon salmon.
The statutes which were passed in the
council held at Perth in April last,
regarding the payment of duties upon
English and Scotch cloth, salt, flesh,
grease, and butter, as well as horse
and cattle, exported to England, were
appointed to be continued in force;
and the provisions of the same parlia­
ment went on to declare that, con­
sidering the “great and horrible de-

10                                 HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. I.

structions, hersehips, burning, and
slaughter, which disgraced the king­
dom, it was ordained, by consent of
the three estates, that every sheriff
should make proclamation that no
man riding or going through the coun­
try be accompanied with more atten­
dants than they are able to pay for;
and that, under penalty of the loss of
life and goods, no man disturb the
country by such slaughters, burnings,
raids, and destructions, as had been
common under the late governor,”
The act also declared that, “after
such proclamation has been made, the
sheriff shall use all diligence to dis­
cover and arrest the offenders, and
shall bind them over to appear and
stand their trial at the next justice
ayre : if unable to find bail, they were
immediately to be put to the know­
ledge of an assize, and if found guilty,
instantly executed.”

With regard to those higher and
more daring offenders, whom the
power of the sheriff or his inferior offi­
cers was altogether unable to arrest,
(and there can be little doubt that
this class included the greater portion
of the nobles,) it was provided that
this officer “should publicly declare
the names of them that may not be
arrested, enjoining them within fifteen
days to come and find bail to appear
and stand their trial, under the penalty
that all who do not obey this summons
shall be put to the king’s horn, and
their goods and estate confiscated.”
The only other provision of this par­
liament regarded a complaint of the
queen-mother, stating that her pension
of two thousand six hundred marks
had been refused by the Duke of
Albany, the chamberlain, and an order
by the king that it be immediately
paid—a manifest proof of the jealousy
which existed between this ambitious
noble and the royal family.1

Whilst such was the course of events
in Scotland, and the ambition of Rothe-
say in supplanting his uncle Albany
was crowned with success, an extra­
ordinary event had taken place in
England, which seated Henry of Lan­
caster upon the throne, under the title
MS. Record of Parliament 1398, ut supra.

of Henry the Fourth, and doomed
Richard the Second to a perpetual
prison. It was a revolution having in
its commencement perhaps no higher
object than to restrain within the
limits of law the extravagant preten­
sions of the king; but it was hurried
on to a consummation by a rashness
and folly upon his part which alienated
the whole body of his people, and
opened up to his rival an avenue to
the throne which it was difficult for
human ambition to resist. The spec­
tacle, however, of a king deposed by
his nobles, and a crown forcibly appro­
priated by a subject who possessed no
legitimate title, was new and appalling,
and created in Scotland a feeling of
indignant surprise, which is apparent
in the accounts of our contemporary
historians. Nor was this at all extra­
ordinary. The feudal nobility con­
sidered the kingdom as a fee descend­
ible to heirs, and regarded the right to
the throne as something very similar
to their own right to their estates; so
that the principle that a kingdom
might be taken by conquest, on the
allegation that the conduct of the king
was tyrannical, was one which, if it
gave Henry of Lancaster a lawful title,
might afford to a powerful neighbour
just as good a right to seize upon their
property. It was extraordinary for us
to hear, says Winton, with much sim­
plicity, that a great and powerful king,
who was neither pagan nor heretic,
should yet be deposed like an old ab­
bot, who is superseded for dilapidation
of his benefice; 2 and it is quite evi­
dent, from the terms of the address
which Henry used at his coronation,
and his awkward attempt to mix up
the principle of the king having va­
cated the throne by setting himself
above the laws, with a vague heredi­
tary claim upon his own side, that the
same ideas were present to his mind,
and occasioned him uneasiness and

It is well known that he was scarce
seated on the throne when a conspiracy
for the restoration of the deposed
monarch was discovered, which was

2 Winton, vol. ii. p. 386.

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 427.

1398.]                                            ROBERT III.                                                   11

soon after followed by the news that
Richard had died in Pontefract castle,
and by the removal of a body declared
to be that of the late king from Pom-
fret to St Paul’s, where, as it lay in
state in its royal shroud, Henry him­
self, and the whole of the nobility,
officiated in the service for the dead.
A report, however, almost immediately
arose, that this was not the body of
the king, who, it was affirmed, was
still alive, but that of Maudelain, his
private chaplain, lately executed as
one of the conspirators, and to whom
the king bore a striking resemblance.1
After the funeral service, it is certain
that Henry did not permit the body
to be deposited in the tomb which
Richard had prepared for himself and
his first wife, at Westminster, but had
it conveyed to the church of the
preaching friars at King’s Langley,
where it was interred with the utmost
secrecy and despatch.2

Not long after this an extraordinary
story arose in Scotland. King Richard,
it was affirmed, having escaped from
Pontefract, had found means to convey
himself, in the disguise of a poor tra­
veller, to the Western, or out Isles of
Scotland, where he was accidentally
recognised by a lady who had known
him in Ireland, and who was sister-
in-law to Donald, lord of the Isles.
Clothed in this mean habit, the un­
happy monarch sat down in the kit­
chen of the castle belonging to this
island prince, fearful, even in this
remote region, of being discovered and
delivered up to Henry. He was treated,
however, with much kindness, and
given in charge to Lord Montgomery,
who carried him to the court of Robert
the Third, where he was received with
honour. It was soon discovered that,
whatever was the history of his escape,
either misfortune for the time had un­
settled his intellect, or that, for the
purpose of safety, he assumed the
guise of madness, for although recog­
nised by those to whom his features
were familiar, he himself denied that

1 Metrical History of the Deposition of
Richard the Second. Archœologia, vol. xx.
p. 220.

2 Otterburn, p. 229. Walsingham, p. 363.
Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments, vol. i. p. 168.

he was the king; and Winton describes
him as half mad or wild. It is cer­
tain, however, that during the con­
tinuance of the reign of Robert the
Third, and after his death, throughout
the regency of Albany, a period of
nineteen years, this mysterious per­
son was treated with the consideration
befitting the rank of a king, although
detained in a sort of honourable cap­
tivity ; and it was constantly asserted
in England and France, and believed
by many of those best able to ob­
tain accurate information, that King
Richard was alive, and kept in Scot­
land. So much, indeed, was this the
case that, as we shall immediately see,
the reign of Henry the Fourth, and of
his successor, was disturbed by re­
peated conspiracies, which were in­
variably connected with that country,
and which had for their object his
restoration to the throne. It is cer­
tain also that in contemporary records
of unquestionable authenticity, he is
spoken of as Richard the Second, king
of England; that he lived and died in
the palace of Stirling; and that he was
buried with the name, state, and hon­
ours of that unfortunate monarch.3

A cloud now began to gather over
Scotland, which threatened to inter­
rupt the quiet current of public pro­
sperity, and once more to plunge the
country into war. It was thought
proper that the Duke of Rothesay, the
heir-apparent to the throne, should no
longer continue unmarried; and the
Earl of March, one of the most power­
ful nobles in the kingdom, proposed
his daughter, with the promise of a
large dowry, as a suitable match for
the young prince. The offer was ac­
cepted, but before the preliminaries
were arranged, March found his de­
signs traversed and defeated by the
intrigues and ambition of a family
now more powerful than his own.
Archibald, earl of Douglas, loudly
complained that the marriage of the
heir to the crown was too grave a
matter to be determined without the
advice of the three estates, and, with
the secret design of procuring the

3 See Historical Remarks on the Death of
Richard the Second, infra.

12                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. I.

prince’s hand for his own daughter,
engaged in his interest the Duke of
Albany, who still possessed a great in­
fluence over the character of the king.
What were Rothesay’s own wishes
upon the occasion is not easily ascer­
tained. It is not improbable that his
gay and dissipated habits, which un­
fortunately seem not to have been re­
strained by his late elevation, would
have induced him to decline the pro­
posals of both the earls; but he was
overruled, the splendid dowry paid
down by Douglas, which far exceeded
the promises of March, was perhaps
the most powerful argument in the
estimation of the prince and the king,
and it was determined that the daugh­
ter of Douglas should be preferred to
Elizabeth of Dunbar.

In the meantime the intrigue reached
the ears of March, who was not of a
temper to suffer tamely so disgraceful
a slight; and, little able or caring to
conceal his indignation, he instantly
sought the royal presence and up­
braided the king for his breach of
agreement, demanding redress and the
restoration of the sum which he had
paid down. Receiving an evasive re­
ply, his passion broke out into the
most violent language; and he left the
monarch with a threat that he would
either see his daughter righted, or take
a revenge which should convulse the
kingdom. The first part of the alter­
native, however, was impossible. It
was soon discovered that Rothesay
with great speed and secrecy had rode
to Bothwell, where his marriage with
Elizabeth Douglas had been precipi­
tately concluded; and the moment
that this intelligence reached him,
March committed the charge of his
castle of Dunbar to Maitland, his
nephew, repaired to the English court,
and entered into a correspondence
with the new king.

His flight was the signal for the
Douglases to wrest his castle out of
the hands of the weak and irresolute
youth to whom it had been intrusted,
and to seize upon his noble estates;
so that to the insult and injustice with
which he had already been treated
was added an injury which left him

without house or lands, and compelled
him to throw himself into the arms of

On ascending the throne, the Duke
of Lancaster, known henceforth by the
title of Henry the Fourth, was natu­
rally anxious to consolidate his power,
and would willingly have remained at
peace; but the expiration of the truce
which had been concluded with his
predecessor seems to have been hailed
with mutual satisfaction by the fierce
Borderers ; and careless of the pesti­
lence which raged in England, the
Scots broke across the marches in great
force, and stormed the castle of Wark
during the absence of Sir Thomas
Gray, the governor,2 who, hurrying
back to defend his charge, found it
razed to the foundation. These in­
roads were speedily revenged by Sir
Robert Umfraville, who defeated the
Scots in a skirmish at Fullhopelaw,
which was contested with much ob­
stinacy. Sir Robert Rutherford with
his five sons, Sir William Stewart, and
John Turnbull, a famous leader, com­
monly called “ Out wyth Swerd,” were
made prisoners ;3 and the ancient en­
mity and rivalry between the two na­
tions being again excited, the Borderers
on both sides issued from their woods
and marshes,and commenced their usual
system of cruel and unsparing ravage.

For a while these mutual excesses
were overlooked, or referred to the
decision of the march-wardens; but
Henry was well aware that the secret
feelings both of the king and of Albany
were against him : he knew they were
in strict alliance with France, which
threatened him with invasion; and the
story of the escape of the real or pre­
tended Richard, whom he of course
branded as an impostor, while the
Scots did not scruple to entertain him
as king, was likely to rouse his keenest
indignation. He accordingly received
the Earl of March with distinguished
favour; and this baron, whose remon­
strances regarding the restoration of

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 153. Rymer,
Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 153.

2 Walsingham, p. 362.

3 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 162. “ This
expressive appellative” appears in Rymer,
“ Joannus Tournebuli Out wyth Swerd.”

1398-1401.]                                  ROBERT III.                                                   13

his castle and estates had been an­
swered with scorn, renounced his alle­
giance to his lawful sovereign, and
agreed to become henceforward the
faithful subject of the King of Eng­
land;1 upon which that monarch
publicly declared his intention of in­
stantly invading the country, and pre­
pared, at the head of an army, to
chastise the temerity of his vassal in
the assumed character of Lord Su­
perior of Scotland. In so ludicrous a
light did the revival of this exploded
claim appear, that, with the exception
of a miserable pasquinade, it met with
no notice whatever. March in the
meantime, in conjunction with Hot­
spur and Lord Thomas Talbot, at the
head of two thousand men, entered
Scotland through the lands which he
could no longer call his own, and wast­
ing the country as far as the village of
Popil, twice assaulted the castle of
Hailes, but found himself repulsed by
the bravery of the garrison; after
which they burnt and plundered the
villages of Traprain and Methill, and
encamped at Linton, where they col­
lected their booty, kindled their fires,
and as it was a keen and cold evening
in November, proposed to pass the
night. So carelessly had they set
their watches, however, that Archibald
Douglas, the earl’s eldest son, by a
rapid march from Edinburgh, had
reached the hill of Pencrag before the
English received any notice of his ap­
proach ; upon which they took to flight
in the utmost confusion, pursued by
the Scots, who made many prisoners
in the wood of Coldbrandspath, and
continued the chase to the walls of
Berwick, where they took the banner
of Lord Talbot.2

Soon after this Henry determined
to make good his threats; and, at the
head of an army far superior in num­
ber to any force which the Scots could
oppose to him, proceeded to New­
castle ; and from thence summoned
Robert of Scotland to appear before
him as his liegeman and vassal.3 To
this ridiculous demand no answer was

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 153.

2  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 429.

3  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. pp. 157, 158.

returned, and the king advanced into
Scotland, directing his march towards
the capital. Rothesay, the governor,
now commanded the castle of Edin­
burgh, and, incensed at the insolence of
Henry, sent him his cartel, publicly de­
fying him as his adversary of England;
accusing him of having invaded, for
the sole love of plunder, a country to
which he had no title whatever ; and
offering to decide the quarrel, and
spare the effusion of Christian blood
which must follow a protracted war,
by a combat of one hundred, two hun­
dred, or three hundred nobles on each
side.4 This proposal Henry evaded,
and proceeded without a check to
Leith, from which he directed a moni­
tory letter to the king, which, like his
former summons, was treated with
silent scorn.

The continuance of the expedition
is totally deficient in historical interest,
and is remarkable only from the cir­
cumstance that it was the last invasion
which an English monarch ever con­
ducted into Scotland. It possessed, also,
another distinction highly honourable
to its leader, in the unusual lenity
which attended the march of the army,
and the absence of that plunder, burn­
ing, and indiscriminate devastation,
which had accompanied the last great
invasion of Richard, and iudeed almost
every former enterprise of the English.
After having advanced to Leith, where
he met his fleet, and reprovisioned his
army, Henry proceeded to lay siege to
the castle of Edinburgh, which was
bravely defended by the Duke of
Rothesay. Albany in the meantime
having collected a numerous army,
pushed on by rapid marches towards
the capital, with the apparent design
of raising the siege and relieving the
heir to the throne from the imminent
danger to which he was exposed. On
reaching Calder-moor, however, he
pitched his tents, and shewed no in­
clination to proceed; whilst public
rumour loudly accused him of an in­
tention to betray the prince into the
hands of the enemy, and clear for
himself a passage to the throne. Yet,
although the prior and subsequent
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 158.

14                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

conduct of Albany gave a plausible
colour to such reproaches, it is not
impossible that the duke might have
avoided a battle without any such base
intentions. The season of the year
was far advanced, and the numerous
host of the English king was already
suffering grievously, both from sick­
ness and want of provisions. Rothe-
say, on the contrary, and his garrison,
were well provisioned, in high spirits,
and ready to defend a fortress of great
natural strength to the last extremity.
The event shewed the wisdom of these
calculations; for Henry, after a short
experience of the strength of the
castle, withdrew his army from the
siege; and receiving, about the same
time, intelligence of the rebellion of
the Welsh, commenced his retreat into

It was conducted with the same
discipline and moderation which had
marked his advance. Wherever a
castle or fortalice requested protection
it was instantly granted, and a pennon
with the arms of England was hung
over the battlements, which was
sacredly respected by the soldiers.
Henry’s reply to two canons of Holy-
rood, who besought him to spare their
monastery, was in the same spirit of
benevolence and courtesy. “ Never,”
said he, “while I live, shall I cause
distress to any religious house what­
ever : and God forbid that the monas­
tery of Holyrood, the asylum of my
father when an exile, should suffer
aught from his son ! I am myself a
Cumin, and by this side half a Scot;
and I came here with my army, not
to ravage the land, but to answer the
defiance of certain amongst you who
have branded me as a traitor, to see
whether they dare to make good the
opprobrious epithets with which I am
loaded in their letters to the French
king, which were intercepted by my
people, and are now in my possession.
I sought him” (he here probably meant
the Duke of Albany) “ in his own land,
anxious to give him an opportunity of
establishing his innocence, or proving
my guilt; but he has not dared to
meet me.”1

1 Fordun a Groodal, vol. ii. p. 430.

That these were not the real motives
which led to an expedition so pompous
in its preliminaries, and so inglorious
in its results, Henry himself has told
us, in the revival of the claim of ho­
mage, the summons to Robert as his
vassal, and his resolution to punish his
contumacy, and to compel him to sue
for pardon; but when he discovered
that any attempt to effect this would
be utterly futile, and the rumours of
the rebellion of Glendower made him
anxious to return, it was not impolitic
to change his tone of superiority into
more courteous and moderate language,
and to represent himself as coming to
Scotland, not as a king to recover his
dominions, but simply as a knight to
avenge his injured honour. He after­
wards asserted that, had it not been
for the false and flattering promises of
Sir Adam Forester, made to him when
he was in Scotland, he should not have
so readily quitted that country; but
the subject to which the king alluded
is involved in great obscurity.2 It
may, perhaps, have related to the de­
livery into his hands of the mysterious
captive who is supposed to have been
Richard the Second.

The condition of the country now
called for the attention of the great
national council; and on the 21st of
February 1401, a parliament was held
at Scone,3 in which many wise and
salutary laws were passed. To some
of these, as they throw a strong and
clear light upon the civil condition of
the country, it will be necessary to
direct our attention; nor will the
reader, perhaps, regret that the stir­
ring narrative of war is thus some­
times broken by the quiet pictures of
peace. The parliament was composed
of the bishops, abbots, and priors, with
the dukes, earls, and barons, and the
freeholders and burgesses, who held of
the king in chief. Its enactments ap­
pear to have related to various subjects
connected with feudal possession: such
as the brief of inquest; the duty of
the chancellor in directing a precept

2  Parliamentary Hist, of England, vol. ii.
p. 72.

3  Statutes of King Robert the Third, p. 51.
Regiam Majestatem.

1401.]                                          ROBERT III.                                                     15

of seisin upon a retour; the preven­
tion of distress to vassals from all im­
proper recognition of their lands made
by their overlords ; the regulation of
the laws regarding the succession to a
younger brother dying without heirs
of his body; and the prevention of a
common practice, by which, without
consent of the vassal, a new superior
was illegally imposed upon him. Owing
to the precarious condition of feudal
property, which, in the confusions in­
cident to public and private war, was
constantly changing its master, and to
the tyranny of the aristocracy of Scot­
land, it is not surprising that number­
less abuses should have prevailed, and
that, to use the expressive language of
the record itself, “divers and sindrie
our soverane lordis lieges should be
many wayes unjustlie troubled and
wexed in their lands and heritage be
inquisitions taken favorably, and be
ignorant persons.” To remedy such
malversation, it was enacted that no
sheriff or other judge should cause any
brief of inquest to be served, except
in his own open court; and that the
inquest should be composed of the
most sufficient and worthy persons
resident within his jurisdiction, whom
he was to summon upon a premonition
of fifteen days. When an inquest had
made a retour, by which the reader is
to understand the jury giving their
verdict or judgment, the chancellor
was prohibited from directing a pre­
cept of seisin, or a command to deliver
the lands into the hands of the vassal,
unless it appeared clearly stated in the
retour that the last heir was dead, and
the lands in the hands of the king or
the overlord.

It was enacted, at the same time,
that all barons and freeholders who
held of the king should provide them­
selves with a seal bearing their arms,
and that the retour should have ap­
pended to it the seals of the sheriff,
and of the majority of the persons who
sat upon the inquest. It appears to
have been customary in those unquiet
times, when “strongest might made
strongest right,” for the great feudal
barons, upon the most frivolous pre­
tences, to resume their vassals’ lands,

and to dispose of them to some more
favoured or more powerful tenant.
This great abuse, which destroyed all
the security of property, and thus in­
terrupted the agricultural and com­
mercial improvement of the country,
called for immediate redress; and a
statute was passed, by which all such
“ gratuitous recognitions or resump­
tions of lands which had been made
by any overlord, are declared of none
effect, unless due and lawful cause be
assigned for such having taken place.”
It was provided, also, that no vassal
should lose possession of his lands in
consequence of such recognition until
after the expiration of a year, provided
he used diligence to repledge his lands
within forty days thereafter.1 The
mode in which this ceremony is to be
performed is briefly but clearly pointed
out: the vassal being commanded to
pass to the principal residence of his
overlord, and, before witnesses, to de­
clare his readiness to perform all feudal
services to which he is bound by law,
requesting the restoration of his lands
upon his finding proper security for
the performance of his duties as vassal;
and in order to the prevention of all
concealed and illegal resumptions, it
is made imperative on the overlord to
give due intimation of them in the
parish church, using the common
language of the realm; whilst the
vassal is commanded to make the same
proclamation of any offer to repledge
in the same public manner. In the
event of a younger brother dying with­
out heirs of his body, it is declared
that his “conquest lands”—that is,
those acquired not by descent, but by
purchase, or other title—should be­
long to the immediate elder brother,
according to the old law upon the sub­
ject; and it is made illegal for any
vassal holding lands of the king to
have a new superior imposed upon
him by any grant whatever, unless he
himself consent to this alteration.

In those times of violence, it is in­
teresting to observe the feeble attempts
of the legislature to introduce these
restraints of the law. In the event of

1 Statutes of King Robert the Third, pp,
52, 55.

16                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

a baron having a claim of debt against
any unfortunate individual, it seems
to have been a common practice for
the creditor, on becoming impatient, to
have proceeded to his house or lands,
and there to have helped himself to
an equivalent, or, in the language of
the statute-book, “to have taken his
poynd.” And in such cases, where a
feudal lord, with his vassals at his
heel, met with any attractive property,
in the form of horses or cattle, or rich
household furniture, it may easily be
believed that he would stand on little
ceremony as to the exact amount of
the debt, but appropriate what pleased
him without much compunction. This
practice was declared illegal, “ unless
the seizure be made within his own
dominions, and for his own proper
debt:" an exception proving the ex­
treme feebleness of the government;
and, in truth, when we consider the
immense estates possessed at this pe­
riod by the great vassals of the crown,
amounting almost to a total annulment
of the law.1 In somewhat of the same
spirit of toleration, a law was made
against any one attempting, by his own
power and authority, to expel a vassal
from his lands, on the plea that he is
not the rightful heir; and it was de­
clared that, whether he be possessed
of the land lawfully or unlawfully, he
shall be restored to his possession, and
retain the same until he lose it by the
regular course of law ; whilst no pen­
alty was inflicted on him who thus
dared, in the open defiance of all
peace and good government, to take
the execution of the law into his own

It was next declared unlawful to set
free upon bail certain persons accused
of great or heinous crimes; and the
offenders thus excepted were described
to be those taken for manslaughter,
breakers of prison, common and noto­
rious thieves, persons apprehended for
fire-raising or felony, falsifiers of the
king’s money or of his seal; such as
have been excommunicated, and seized
by command of the bishop ; those ac­
cused of treason, and bailies who are
in arrears, and make not just accounts

1 Statutes of King Robert the Third, p. 54.

to their masters.2 Any excommuni­
cated person who complains that he
has been unjustly dealt with, was em­
powered within forty days to appeal
from his judge to the conservator of
the clergy, who, being advised by his
counsel, must reform the sentence;
and, if the party still conceived him­
self to be aggrieved, it was made law­
ful for him to carry his appeal, in the
last instance, to the General Assembly
of the Church. With regard to the
trial of cases by “ singular combat,'’ a
wise attempt seems to have been made
in this parliament to limit the circum­
stances under which this savage and
extraordinary mode of judgment was
adopted; and it is declared that there
must be four requisites in every crime
before it is to be so tried. It must
infer a capital punishment—it must
have been secretly perpetrated—the
person appealed must be pointed out
by public and probable suspicion as
its author—and it must be of such a
nature as to render a proof by written
evidence or by witnesses impossible.
It was appointed that the king’s lieu­
tenant, and others the king’s judges,
should be bound and obliged to hear
the complaints of all churchmen,
widows, pupils, and orphans, regard­
ing whatever injuries may have been
committed against them; and that jus­
tice should be done to them speedily,
and without taking from them any
pledges or securities. Strict regula­
tion was made that all widows, who,
after the death of their husbands,
had been violently expelled from their
dower lands, should be restored to
their possession, with the accumulated
rents due since their husband’s death ;
and it was specially provided, that in­
terest or usury should not run against
the debts of a minor until he is of per­
fect age, but that the debt should be
paid with the interest which was
owing by his predecessor previous to
his decease.3

Some of the more minute regulations
of the same parliament were curious :
a fine of a hundred shillings was im­
posed on all who catch salmon within

2  Statutes of King Robert the Third, p. 54.

3  Ibid. p. 56.

the forbidden time; a penalty of six
shillings and eightpence on all who
slay hares in time of snow; and it was
strictly enjoined, as a statute to be
observed through the whole realm,
that there should be no muir-burning,
or burning of heath, except in the
month of March; and that a penalty
of forty shillings should be imposed
upon any one who dared to infringe this
regulation, which should be given to
the lord of the land where the burning
had taken place.1 With regard to a
subject of great importance, “the as­
size of weightis and measuris,” it is to
be regretted that the abridgment of
the proceedings of this parliament,
left by Skene, which is all that re­
mains to us, is in many respects con­
fused and unintelligible. The original
record itself is unfortunately lost. The
chapter upon weights and measures
commences with the declaration, that
King David’s common elne, or ell, had
been found to contain thirty-seven
measured inches, each inch being equal
to three grains of bear placed length­
ways, without the tail or beard. The
stone, by which wool and other com­
modities were weighed, was to contain
fifteen pounds; but a stone of wax,
only eight pounds : the pound itself
being made to contain fifteen ounces,
and to weigh twenty-five shillings. It
is observed, in the next section of this
chapter, that the pound of silver in
the days of King Robert Bruce, the
first of that name, contained twenty-
six shillings and four pennies, in con­
sequence of the deterioration of the
money of this king from the standard
money in the days of David the First,
in whose time the ounce of silver was
coined into twenty pennies. The same
quantity of silver under Robert the
First was coined into twenty-one pen­
nies ; “ but now,” adds the record, “ in
our days, such has been the deteriora­
tion of the money of the realm, that
the ounce of silver actually contains
thirty-two pennies.”

It was enacted that the boll should
contain twelve gallons, and should be
nine inches in depth, including the

1 Statutes of King Robert the Third, pp.


thickness of the tree on both the sides.
In the roundness or circumference
above, it was to be made to contain
threescore and twelve inches in the
middle of the “ower tree;“ but in the
inferior roundness or circumference
below, threescore eleven inches. The
gallon was fixed to contain twelve
pounds of water, four pounds of sea
water, four of clear running water, and
four of stagnant water. Its depth was
to be six inches and a half, its breadth
eight inches and a half, including the
thickness of the wood on both sides;
its circumference at the top twenty-
seven inches and a half, and at the
bottom twenty-three inches.2 Such
were all the regulations with regard to
this important subject which appear
in this chapter, and they are to be re­
garded as valuable and venerable relics
of the customs of our ancestors; but
the perusal of a single page of the
Chamberlain Accounts will convince
us how little way they go towards
making up a perfect table of weights
and measures, and how difficult it is
to institute anything like a fair com­
parison between the actual wealth and
comfort of those remote ages, and the
prosperity and opulence of our own

The parliament next turned its at­
tention to the providing of checks
upon the conduct and administration
of judges : a startling announcement,
certainly, to any one whose opinions
are formed on modern experience, but
no unnecessary subject for parliamen­
tary interference during these dark
times. It was enacted that every,
sheriff should have a clerk appointed,
not by the sheriff, but by the king, to
whom alone this officer was to be
responsible; and that such clerk should
be one of the king’s retinue and house-
hold, and shall advise with the king
in all the affairs which were intrusted
to him.3 The sheriffs themselves
were to appear yearly, in person or by
deputy, in the king’s Court of Exche­
quer, under the penalty of ten pounds,
and removal from office; their fees, or
salaries, were made payable out of the

2  Statutes of Ring Robert the Third, p. 56,

3  Ibid, p. 57.

1401.]                                  ROBERT III.                                         17

18                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

escheats in their own courts, and were
not due until an account had been
given by them in the Exchequer; and
it was specially ordained that no
sheriff should pass from the king’s
court to execute his various duties in
the sheriffdom, without having along
with him for his information the “Acts
of Parliament, and certain instructions
in writ, to be given him by the king’s
Privy Council.” It was enacted that
justiciars should be appointed upon
the south side and north side of the
water of Forth; it was made imper­
ative upon these high judges to hold
their courts twice in the year in each
sheriffdom within their jurisdiction;
and if any justiciar omitted to hold
his court without being able to allege
any reasonable impediment, he was to
lose a proportion of his salary, and to
answer to the king for such neglect of

The process of all cases brought
before the justiciar was appointed to
be reduced into writing by the clerk ;
and a change was introduced from the
old practice with regard to the cir­
cumstances under which any person
summoned before the justiciar should
be judged and punished as contuma­
cious for not appearing. Of old, the
fourth court—that is, the court held on
the fourth day—was peremptory in all
cases except such as concerned fee and
heritage; but it was now appointed
that the second court, or the court
held on the second day, and on the
last day, should be peremptory; and
any person who, being lawfully sum­
moned, neglected to appear on either
of these days, was to be denounced a
rebel and put to the horn, as was the
custom in “ auld times and courts.” 1
The officer of the coroner was to arrest
persons thus summoned ; and it was
declared lawful for such officers to
make such arrests at any time within
the year, either before or after the
proclamation of the justice ayre. All
lords of regality—by which the reader
is to understand such feudal barons as
possessed authority to hold their own
courts within a certain division of
property, all sheriffs, and all barons,
Statutes of King Robert the Third, p. 57.

who have the power of holding crimi­
nal courts—were strictly enjoined to
follow the same order of proceeding
as that which has been laid down for
the observance of the justiciars.
These supreme judges were also com­
manded, in their annual courts, to
inquire rigidly into the conduct of the
sheriffs and other inferior officers; to
scrutinise the manner in which they
have discharged the duties committed
to them; and, if they found them
guilty of malversation, to remove them
from their offices until the meeting of
the next parliament. Any sheriff or
inferior officer thus removed, was to
find security for his appearance before
the parliament, who, according to their
best judgment, were to determine the
punishment due for his offence, whe­
ther a perpetual removal from his
office, or only a temporary suspension;
and, in the meanwhile, the person so
offending was ordained to lose his
salary for that year, and another to be
substituted by the justiciar in his

With regard to such malefactors as
were found to be common destroyers
of the land, wasting the king’s lieges
with plundering expeditions, burning
and consuming the country in their
ruinous passage from one part to
another, the sheriffs were commanded
to do all diligence to arrest them, and
to bind them over to appear at the
next court of the justiciar on a certain
day, under a penalty of twenty pounds
for each offender, to be paid in case of
contumacy, or non-appearance, by those
persons who were his sureties; and it
was strictly enjoined that no person,
in riding through the country, should
be attended by more persons than
those for whom he makes full pay­
ment, under the penalty of loss of life
and property. In all time coming, no
one was to be permitted with impunity
to commit any slaughter, burning,
theft, or “ herschip ; “ and if the of­
fender guilty of such crimes be not
able to find security for his appearance
to stand his trial before the justiciar,
the sheriff was enjoined instantly to
try him by an assize, and, if the crime
be proved against him, take order for

1401.]                                            ROBERT III.                                                   19

his execution. In the case of thieves
and malefactors who escaped from
one sheriffdom to another, the sheriff
within whose jurisdiction the crime
had been committed, was bound to
direct his letters to the sheriff in
whose county the delinquent had taken
refuge. It was made imperative on
such officer, with the barons, free­
holders, and others the king’s lieges,
to assist in the arrest of such fugitives,
in order to their being brought to
justice; and this in every case, as well
against their own vassals and retinue
as against others; whilst any baron or
other person who disobeyed this order,
and refused such assistance, was to
pay ten pounds to the king, upon the
offence being proved against him before
a jury.

It was made lawful for any tenant
or farmer who possessed lands under
a lease of a certain endurance, to sell
or dispose of the lease to whom he
pleased, any time before its expiry.
Any vassal or tenant who was found
guilty of concealing the charter by
which he held his lands, when sum­
moned by his overlord to exhibit it,
was to lose all benefit he might claim
upon it; and in the case of a vassal
having lost such charter, or of his
never having had any charter, a jury
was to be impannelled, in the first
event, for the purpose of investigating
by witnesses whether the manner of
holding corresponds with the tenor of
the charter which had been lost; and,
in the second case, to establish by
what precise manner of holding the
vassal was in future to be bound to his
overlord, which determination of the
assize was in future to stand for his
charter. If any person, in conse­
quence of the sentence of a jury, had
taken seisin. or possession of land
which was then in the hands of an­
other, who affirmed it to be his pro­
perty, it was made lawful for this last
to retain possession, and to break the
seisin, by instituting a process for its
reduction within fifteen days, if the
lands be heritage, and forty days if
they be conquest. If any pork or
bacon, which was unwholesome from
any cause, or salmon spoilt and foul

from being kept too long, was brought
to market, it was to be seized by the
bailies, and sent immediately to the
“lipper folk,” l—a species of barbarous
economy which, says little for the hu­
manity of the age ; the bailies, at the
same time, were to take care that the
money paid for it be restored, and
“gif there are no lipper folk,” the
obnoxious provisions were to be de­
stroyed. 2

Such is an outline of the principal
provisions of this parliament, which I
have detailed at some length, as they
are the only relics of our legislative
history which we shall meet with until
the reign of the first James; a period
when the light reflected upon the
state of the country, from the parlia­
mentary proceedings, becomes more
full and clear. Important as these
provisions are, and evincing no incon­
siderable wisdom for so remote a
period, it must be recollected that, in
such days of violence and feudal
tyranny, it was an easier thing to pass
acts of parliament than to carry them
into execution. In all probability,
there was not an inferior baron, who,
sitting in his own court, surrounded
by his mail-clad vassals, did not feel
himself strong enough to resist the
feeble voice of the law; and as for the
greater nobles, to whom such high
offices as Justiciar, Chancellor, or
Chamberlain, were committed, it is
certain, that instead of the guardians
of the laws, and protectors of the
rights of the people, they were them­
selves often their worst oppressors,
and, from their immense power and
vassalage, able in frequent instances
to defy the mandates of the crown,
and to resist all legitimate autho-

Of this prevalence of successful
guilt in the higher classes, the history
of the country during the year in
which this parliament assembled, af­
forded a dreadful example, in the
murder of the Duke of Rothesay, the
heir-apparent to the throne, by his
uncle the Duke of Albany. Rothesay’s
marriage, which in all probability was

1 Leprous folk.

2 Statutes of King Robert the Third, p. 59.

20                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

the result of political convenience
more than of inclination, does not
appear to have improved his character.
At an age when better things were to
be expected, his life continued turbu­
lent and licentious; the spirit of mad
unbridled frolic in which he indulged,
the troops of gay and dissipated com­
panions with whom he associated, gave
just cause of offence to his friends,
and filled the bosom of his fond and
weak father with anxiety and alarm.
Even after his assuming the temporary
government of the country, his con­
duct was wild and unprincipled; he
often employed the power intrusted
to him against, rather than in support
of, the laws and their ministers;
plundered the collectors of the rev­
enue;1 threatened and overruled the
officers to whose management the
public money was intrusted; and ex­
hibited an impatience for uncontrolled

Yet amid all his recklessness, there
was a high honour and a courageous
openness about Rothesay, which were
every now and then breaking out, and
giving promise of reformation. He
hated all that was double, whilst he
despised, and delighted to expose, that
selfish cunning which he had detected
in the character of his uncle, whose
ambition, however carefully concealed,
could not escape him. Albany, on
the other hand, was an enemy whom
it was the extremity of folly and rash­
ness to provoke. He was deep, cold,
and unprincipled; his objects were
pursued with a pertinacity of purpose,
and a complete command of temper,
which gave him a great superiority
over the wild and impetuous nobility
by whom he was surrounded; and
when once in his power, his victims
had nothing to hope for from his pity.
Rothesay he detested, and there is
reason to believe had long determined
on his destruction, as the one great
obstacle which stood in the path of
his ambition, and as the detector of
his deep-laid intrigues; but he was
for a while controlled and overawed
by the influence of the queen, and of

1 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. pp. 512,
520, 476.

her two principal friends and advisers,
Trail, bishop of St Andrews, and
Archibald the Grim, earl of Douglas.
Their united wisdom and authority
had the happiest effects in restraining
the wildness of the prince ; soothing
the irritated feelings of the king, whose
age and infirmity had thrown him into
complete retirement; and counteract­
ing the ambition of Albany, who pos­
sessed too great an influence over the
mind of the monarch. But soon after
this the queen died; the Bishop of St
Andrews and the Earl of Douglas did
not long survive her; and, to use the
strong expression of Fordun, it was
now said commonly through the
land,2 that the glory and the honesty
of Scotland were buried with these
three noble persons. All began to
look with anxiety for what was to
follow; nor were they long kept in
suspense. The Duke of Rothesay,
freed from the gentle control of ma­
ternal love, broke into some of his ac­
customed excesses; and the king, by
the advice of Albany, found it neces­
sary to subject him to a control which
little agreed with his impetuous tem­

It happened that amongst the
prince’s companions was a Sir John de
Ramorgny, who, by a judicious ac­
commodation of himself to his caprici­
ous humours, by flattering his vanity
and ministering to his pleasures, had
gained the intimacy of Rothesay.
Ramorgny appears to have been one
of those men in whom extraordinary,
and apparently contradictory qualities
were found united. From his educa­
tion, which was of the most learned
kind, he seems to have been intended
for the church; but the profligacy of
his youth, and the bold and audacious
spirit which he exhibited, unfitted
him for the sacred office, and he be­
came a soldier and a statesman. His
great talents for business being soon
discovered by Albany, he was repeat­
edly employed in diplomatic negotia­
tions both at home and abroad; and
this intercourse with foreign coun­
tries, joined to a cultivation of those

2 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 431. Extracta
ex Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. p. 248.

1401-2.]                                       ROBERT III.                                                   21

elegant accomplishments to which
most of the feudal nobility of Scot-
land were still strangers, rendered
his manners and his society exceed­
ingly attractive to the young prince.
But these polished and delightful
qualities were superinduced upon a
character of consummate villany, as
unprincipled in every respect as that
of Albany, but fiercer, more audacious,
and, if possible, more unforgiving.

Such was the person whom Rothe-
say, in an evil moment, admitted to
his confidence and friendship, and to
whom, upon being subjected to the
restraint imposed upon him by Albany
and his father, he vehemently com­
plained, Ramorgny, with all his acute-
ness, had in one respect mistaken the
character of the prince ; and, deceived
by the violence of his resentment, he
darkly hinted at a scheme for ridding
himself of his difficulties by the assas­
sination of his uncle. To his astonish­
ment the proposal was met by an
expression of scorn and abhorrence;
and whilst Rothesay disdained to be­
tray his profligate associate, he up­
braided him in terms too bitter to be
forgiven. From that moment Ram-
orgny was transformed into his worst
enemy; and throwing himself into
the arms of Albany, became possessed
of his confidence, and turned it with
fatal revenge against Rothesay.1 It
was unfortunate for this young prince
that his caprice and fondness for plea­
sure, failings which generally find
their punishment in mere tedium and
disappointment, had raised against
him two powerful enemies, who sided
with Albany and Ramorgny, and,
stimulated by a sense of private in­
jury, readily lent themselves to any
plot for his ruin. These were Archi­
bald, earl of Douglas, the brother of
Rothesay’s wife, Elizabeth Douglas,
and Sir William Lindsay of Rossie,
whose sister he had loved and for­
saken. Ramorgny well knew that
Douglas hated the prince for the cold­
ness and inconstancy with which he
treated his wife, and that Lindsay
had never forgiven the slight put

1 Extracta ex Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. Advo­
cates’ Library, Edinburgh, p. 248

upon his sister ; and with all the dis­
simulation in which he was so great a
master, he, assisted by Albany, con­
trived out of these dark elements to
compose a plot which it would have
required a far more able person than
Rothesay to have defeated.

They began by representing to the
king, whose age and infirmities now
confined him to a distant retirement,
and who knew nothing but through
the representations of Albany, that
the wild and impetuous conduct of
his son required a more firm exertion
of restraint than any which had yet
been employed against him. The
bearers of this unwelcome news to
the king were Ramorgny and Lind­
say; and such was the success of
their representations, that they re­
turned to Albany with an order under
the royal signet to arrest the prince
and place him in temporary confine­
ment. Secured by this command, the
conspirators now drew their meshes
more closely round their victim ; and
the bold and unsuspicious character
of the prince gave them every advan­
tage. It was the custom in those
times for the castle or palace of any
deceased prelate to be occupied by
the king until the election of his suc­
cessor; and although the triennial
period of the prince’s government was
now expired, yet probably jealous of
the resumption of his power by Al­
bany, he determined to seize the castle
of St Andrews, belonging to Trail the
bishop, lately deceased, before he
should be anticipated by any order of
the king. The design was evidently
illegal; and Albany, who had received
intimation of it, determined to make
it the occasion of carrying his purpose
into execution. He accordingly laid
his plan for intercepting the prince ;
and Rothesay, as he rode towards St
Andrews, accompanied by a small
retinue, was arrested near Stratyrum
by Ramorgny and Lindsay, and sub­
jected to a strict confinement in the
castle of St Andrews, until the duke
and the Earl of Douglas should deter­
mine upon his fate.

This needed little time, for it had
been long resolved on; and when

22                                 HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. I.

once masters of his person, the cata­
strophe was as rapid as it was horrible.
In a tempestuous day Albany and
Douglas, with a strong party of sol­
diers, appeared at the castle, and dis­
missed the few servants who waited
on him. They then compelled him
to mount a sorry horse, threw a coarse
cloak over his splendid dress, and hur­
rying on, rudely and without cere­
mony, to Falkland, thrust him into a
dungeon. The unhappy prince now
saw that his death was determined;
but he little anticipated its cruel
nature. For fifteen days he was suf­
fered to remain without food, under
the charge of two ruffians named
Wright and Selkirk,1 whose task it
was to watch the agony of their vic­
tim till it ended in death. It is said
that for a while the wretched prisoner
was preserved in a remarkable man­
ner by the kindness of a poor woman,
who, in passing through the garden of
Falkland, and attracted by his groans
to the grated window of his dungeon,
which was level with the ground, be­
came acquainted with his story. It
was her custom to steal thither at
night, and bring him food by dropping
small cakes through the grating, whilst
her own milk, conducted through a
pipe to his mouth, was the only way
he could be supplied with drink. But
Wright and Selkirk, suspecting from
his appearance that he had some secret
supply, watched and detected the
charitable visitant, and the prince was
abandoned to his fate. When nature
at last sunk, his body was found in a
state too horrible to be described, but
which shewed that, in the extremities
of hunger, he had gnawed and torn
his own flesh. It was then carried
to the monastery of Lindores, and
there privately buried, while a re­
port was circulated that the prince

1 John Wright and John Selkirk are the
names, as given by Fordun a Goodal, vol.
ii. p. 431. In the Chamberlain Accounts, vol.
ii. p. 666, sub anno 1405, is the following
entry, which perhaps relates to this infamous
person: “ Johanni Wright uni heredum
quondam Ricardi Ranulphi, per infeodacio-
nem antiquam regis Roberti primi percipi-
enti per annum hereditarie quinque libras
de firmis dicti burgi, (Aberdeen.)”

had been taken ill and died of a dy­

The public voice, however, loudly
and vehemently accused his uncle of
the murder; the cruel nature of his
death threw a veil over the folly and
licentiousness of his life; men began to
remember and to dwell upon his bet­
ter qualities; and Albany found him­
self daily becoming more and more
the object of scorn and detestation.
It was necessary for him to adopt some
means to clear himself of such impu­
tations ; and the skill with which the
conspiracy had been planned was now
apparent: he produced the king’s
letter commanding the prince to be
arrested; he affirmed that everything
which had been done was in conse­
quence of the orders he had received,
defying any one to prove that the
slightest violence had been used ; and
he appealed to and demanded the
judgment of the parliament. This
great council was accordingly assem­
bled in the monastery of Holyrood on
the 16th of May 1402; and a solemn
farce took place, in which Albany and
Douglas were examined as to the
causes of the prince’s death. Unfor­
tunately no original record of the ex­
amination or of the proceedings of the
parliament has been preserved. The
accused, no doubt, told the story in
the manner most favourable to them­
selves, and none dared to contradict
them ; so that it only remained for
the parliament to declare themselves
satisfied, and to acquit them of all
suspicion of a crime which they had
no possibility of investigating. Even
this, however, was not deemed suffi­
cient, and a public remission was
drawn up under the king’s seal, declar­
ing their innocence, in terms which
are quite conclusive as to their guilt.3

The explanation of these unjust
and extraordinary proceedings, is to
be found in the exorbitant power of
Douglas and Albany, and the weak­
ness of the unhappy monarch, who

2  Fordun a Gloodal, vol.ii. p. 431. Cham­
berlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 511.

3  This deed was discovered by Mr Astle,
and communicated by him to Lord Hailes,
who printed it in his Remarks on the History
of Scotland.

1402.]                                            ROBERT III.                                                   23

bitterly lamented the fate of his son,
and probably well knew its authors,
but dreaded to throw the kingdom
into those convulsions which must
have preceded their being brought to
justice. Albany, therefore, resumed
his situation of governor; and the
fate of Rothesay was soon forgotten
in preparations for continuing the
war with England.

The truce, as was usual, had been
little respected by the Borderers of
either country; the Earl of Douglas
being accused of burning Bamborough
castle, and that baron reproaching
Northumberland for the ravages com­
mitted in Scotland. The eastern
marches especially were exposed to
constant ravages by the Earls of March
and the Percies; nor was it to be ex­
pected that so powerful a baron as
March would bear to see his vast pos­
sessions in the hands of the house of
Douglas without attempting either to
recover them himself, or, by havoc
and burning, to make them useless to
his enemy. These bitter feelings led
to constant and destructive invasions;
and the Scottish Border barons—the
Haliburtons, the Hepburns, Cock-
burns, and Lauders—found it neces­
sary to assemble their whole power,
and intrust the leading of it by turns
to the most warlike amongst them, a
scheme which rendered every one
anxious to eclipse his predecessor by
some exploit or successful point of
arms, termed, in the military language
of the times, chevanches. On one of
these occasions the conduct of the
little army fell to Sir Patrick Hep­
burn of Hailes, whose father, a vener­
able soldier of eighty years, was too
infirm to take his turn in command.
Hepburn broke into England, and laid
waste the country ; but his adventu­
rous spirit led him too far on, and
Percy and March had time to assemble
their power, and to intercept the Scots
at Nesbit Moor, in the Merse, where
a desperate conflict took place. The
Scots were only four hundred strong,
but they were admirably armed and
mounted, and had amongst them the
flower of the warriors of the Lothians;
the battle was for a long time bloody

and doubtful, till the Master of Dun-
bar, joining his father and Northum­
berland with two hundred men from
the garrison at Berwick, decided the
fortune of the day.1 Hepburn was
slain, and his bravest knights either
shared his fate or were taken prisoners.
The spot where the conflict took place
is still known by the name of Slaughter
Hill.2 So important did Henry con­
sider this success, probably from the
rank of the captives, that, in a letter
to his privy council, he informed them
of the defeat of the Scots; compli­
mented Northumberland and his son
on their activity, and commanded
them to issue their orders for the
array of the different counties, as
their indefatigable enemies, in great
strength, had already ravaged the
country round Carlisle, and were me­
ditating a second invasion.

Nor was this inaccurate intelligence;
for the desire of revenging the loss
sustained at Nesbit Moor, and the cir­
cumstance of the King of England
being occupied in the suppression of
the Welsh rebellion under Glendower,
encouraged the Earl of Douglas to
collect his whole strength; and Al­
bany, the governor, having sent his
eldest son, Murdoch, to join him with
a strong body of archers and spearmen,
their united force was found to amount
to ten thousand men. The Earls of
Moray and Angus; Fergus Macdowall,
with his fierce and half-armed Gal-
wegians; the heads of the noble
houses of Erskine, Grahame, Mont­
gomery, Seton, Sinclair, Lesley, the
Stewarts of Angus, Lorn, and Duris-
deer, and many other knights and
esquires, embracing the greater part
of the chivalry of Scotland, assembled
under the command of the Earl of
Douglas ; and, confident in their
strength and eager for revenge, pushed
on, without meeting an enemy, to the
gates of Newcastle. But although
Henry was himself personally engaged
in his Welsh war, he had left the
veteran Earl of Northumberland, and
his son Hotspur, in charge of the
Borders ; and the Scottish Earl of

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 433.

2 Hume’s Douglas and Angus, vol. i. p. 218.

24                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

March, who had renounced his fealty
to his sovereign, and become the sub­
ject of England, joined the Percies,
with his son, Gawin of Dunbar.

Douglas, it may be remembered,
had risen upon the ruins of March,
and possessed his castle and estates;
so that the renegade earl brought with
him, not only an experience in Scottish
war and an intimate knowledge of the
Border country, but that bitter spirit
of enmity which made him a for­
midable enemy. It was probably by
his advice that the Scots were allowed
to advance without opposition through
the heart of Northumberland; for the
greater distance they were from home,
and the longer time allowed to the
English to collect their force, it was
evidently the more easy to cut off
their retreat, and to fight them at an

’ advantage.

The result shewed the correctness

of this opinion. The Scottish army,
loaded with plunder, confident in their
own strength, and secure in the ap-

parent panic of the enemy, retreated
slowly and carelessly, and had en­
camped near Wooler, when they were
met by the intelligence that Hotspur,
with a strong army, had occupied the

pass in their front, and was advancing
to attack them. Douglas immediately
drew up his force in a deep square
upon a neighbouring eminence, called
Homildon Hill—an excellent position,
had his sole object been to repel the
attacks of the English cavalry and
men-at arms, but in other respects the
worst that could have been chosen,
for the bulk of Percy’s force consisted
of archers ; and there were many
eminences round Homildon by which
it was completely commanded, the
distance being within arrow-flight.
Had the Scottish knights and squires,
and the rest of their light-armed
cavalry, who must have composed a
body of at least a thousand men, taken
possession of the rising ground in ad­
vance, they might have charged the
English archers before they came
within bowshot, and the subsequent
battle would have been reduced to
a close-hand encounter, in which
the Scots, from the strong ground

which they occupied, must have fought
to great advantage; but from the
mode in which it was occupied by
Douglas, who crowded his whole army
into one dense column, the position
became the most fatal that could have
been selected.

The English army now rapidly ad­
vanced, and on coming in sight of the
Scots, at once occupied the opposite
eminence, which, to their surprise,
they were permitted to do without a
single Scottish knight or horseman
leaving their ranks ; but at this crisis
the characteristic impetuosity of Hot­
spur, who, at the head of the men-at-
arms, proposed instantly to charge the
Scots, had nearly thrown away the
advantage. March, however, instantly
seized his horse’s reins and stopt him.
His eye had detected, at the first
glance, the danger of Douglas’s posi­
tion ; he knew from experience the
strength of the long-bow of England;
and, by his orders, the precedence was
given to the archers, who, slowly ad­
vancing down the hill, poured their
volleys as thick as hail upon the Scots,
whilst, to use the words of an ancient
manuscript chronicle, they were so
closely wedged together, that a breath
of air could scarcely penetrate their
files, making it impossible for them to
wield their weapons. The effects of
this were dreadful, for the cloth-yard
shafts of England pierced with ease
the light armour of the Scots, few of
whom were defended by more than a
steel-cap and a thin jack or breast­
plate, whilst many wore nothing more
than the leather acton or quilted coat,
which afforded a feeble defence against
Such deadly missiles. Even the better-
tempered armour of the knights was
found utterly unequal to resistance,
when, owing to the gradual advance of
their phalanx, the archers took a nearer
and more level aim, whilst the Scot­
tish bowmen drew a wavering and un­
certain bow, and did little execution.1
Numbers of the bravest barons and
gentlemen were mortally wounded,
and fell down on the spot where they

1 Walsingham, p. 366. Otterburn, p. 237.
Fordun and Winton do not even mention the
Scottish archers.

1402.]                                             ROBERT III.                                                  25

were first drawn up, without the pos­
sibility of reaching the enemy; the
horses, goaded and maddened by the
increasing showers of arrows, reared
and plunged, and became altogether un­
manageable ; whilst the dense masses
of the spearmen and naked Galwe-
gians presented the appearance of a
huge hedgehog, (I use the expression
of a contemporary historian,) bristled
over with a thousand shafts, whose
feathers were red with blood. This
state of things could not long continue.
“ My friends,” exclaimed Sir John
Swinton, “ why stand we here to be
slain like deer, and marked down by
the enemy ? Where is our wonted
courage ? Are we to be still, and
have our hands nailed to our lances ?
Follow me, and let us at least sell our
lives as dearly as we can.” 1

Saying this, he couched his spear, and
prepared to gallop down the hill; but
his career was for a moment inter­
rupted by a singular event. Sir Adam
de Gordon, with whom Swinton had
long been at deadly feud, threw him­
self from his horse, and kneeling at
his feet, begged his forgiveness, and
the honour of being knighted by so
brave a leader. Swinton instantly
consented ; and, after giving him the
accolade, tenderly embraced him. The
two warriors then remounted, and at
the head of their followers, forming a
body of a hundred horse, made a des­
perate attack upon the English, which,
had it been followed by a simultaneous
charge of the great body of the Scots,
might still have retrieved the fortune
of the day. But such was now the
confusion of the Scottish lines, that
Swinton and Gordon were slain, and
their men struck down or dispersed
before the Earl of Douglas could ad­
vance to support them; and when he
did so, the English archers, keeping
their ranks, fell back upon the cavalry,
pouring in volley after volley, as they
slowly retreated, and completing the
discomfiture of the Scots by an appal­
ling carnage. If we may believe Wal-
singham, the armour worn by the
Earl of Douglas on this fatal day was

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 434. Winton,
vol. ii. p. 401.

of the most exquisite workmanship
and temper, and cost the artisan who
made it three years’ labour; yet he
was wounded in five places, and made
prisoner along with Lord Murdoch
Stewart, and the Earls of Moray and
Angus. In a short time the Scottish
army was utterly routed; and the
archers, to whom the whole honour of
the day belonged, rushing in with
their knives and short swords, made
prisoners of almost every person of
rank or station.

The number of the slain, however,
was very great; and multitudes of the
fugitives—it is said nearly fifteen
hundred—were drowned in an attempt
to ford the Tweed. Amongst those
who fell, besides Swinton and Gordon,
were Sir John Levingston of Callander,
Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie,
Sir Roger Gordon, Sir Walter Scott,
and Sir Walter Sinclair, with many
other knights and esquires, whose
followers mostly perished with their
masters. Besides the leaders, Douglas
and Lord Murdoch, eighty knights
were taken prisoners, and a crowd of
esquires and pages, whose names and
numbers are not ascertained. Among
the first were three French knights,
Sir Piers de Essars, Sir James de Hel-
sey, and Sir John Darni ;2 Sir Robert
Erskine of Alva, Lord Montgomery,
Sir James Douglas, master of Dalkeith,
Sir William Abernethy of Salton, Sir
John Stewart of Lorn, Sir John Seton,
Sir George Lesley of Rothes, Sir Adam
Forester of Corstorphine, Sir Walter
Bickerton of Luffhess, Sir Robert
Stewart of Durisdeer, Sir William Sin­
clair of Hermandston, Sir Alexander
Home of Dunglas, Sir Patrick Dunbar
of Bele, Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig,
Sir Lawrence Ramsay, Sir Helias Kin-
mont, Sir John Ker, and Fergus Mac-
dowall of Galloway, with many others
whose names have not been ascer­

The fatal result of this day com­
pletely proved the dreadful power of
the English bowmen ; for there is not
a doubt that the battle was gained by

2 Walsingham, pp. 407. 408. Otterburn, pp.

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii, pp. 434, 435

26                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

the archers. Walsingham even goes
so far as to say that neither earl,
knight, nor squire ever handled their
weapons, or came into action, but
remained idle spectators of the total
destruction of the Scottish host; nor
does there seem any good reason to
question the correctness of this fact,
although, after the Scots were broken,
the English knights and horsemen
joined in the pursuit. It was in every
way a most decisive and bloody defeat,
occasioned by the military incapacity
of Douglas, whose pride was probably
too great to take advice, and his judg­
ment and experience in war too con­
fined to render it unnecessary. Hot­
spur might now rejoice that the shame
of Otterburn was effectually effaced;
and March, if he could be so base as
to enjoy the triumph, must have been
amply satiated with revenge : for his
rival, Douglas, was defeated, cruelly
wounded, and a captive.1

The battle was fought on the day
of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross,
being the 14th September, in the year
1402; and the moment that the news
of the defeat was carried to West­
minster, the King of England directed
his letters to the Earl of Northumber­
land, with his son Henry Percy, and
also to the Earl of March, commanding
them, for certain urgent causes, not
to admit to ransom any of their Scot­
tish prisoners, of whatever rank or
station, or to suffer them to be at
liberty under any parole or pretext,
until they should receive further in­
structions upon the subject. To this
order, which was highly displeasing to
the pride of the Percies, as it went to
deprive them of an acknowledged
feudal right which belonged to the
simplest esquire, the monarch sub­
joined his pious thanks to God for so
signal a victory, and to his faithful
barons for their bravery and success ;
but he commanded them to notify his
orders regarding the prisoners to all
who had fought at Homildon, con­
cluding with an assurance that he
had no intention of ultimately de-

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 434,435. Ry-
mer, Fœdera, vol. ix. p. 26. Walsingham, p.
366. Extractaex Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. p. 250.

priving any of his liege subjects of
their undoubted rights in the persons
and property of their prisoners; a de­
claration which would not be readily
believed.2 If Henry thus defeated
the objects which the victory might
have secured him by his precipitancy
and imprudence, Hotspur stained it
by an act of cruelty and injustice.
Teviotdale, it may perhaps be remem­
bered, after having remained in the
partial possession of the English for a
long period, under Edward the Third,
had at last been entirely wrested from
them by the bravery of the Douglases;
and as the Percies had obtained large
grants of land in this district, upon
which many fierce contests had taken
place, their final expulsion from the
country they called their own was
peculiarly irritating. It happened
that amongst the prisoners was Sir
William Stewart of Forrest, a knight
of Teviotdale, who was a boy at the
time the district “ was Anglicised,”
and, like many others, had been com­
pelled to embrace a virtual allegiance
to England, by a necessity which he
had neither the power nor the under­
standing to resist. On the miserable
pretence that he had forfeited his
allegiance, Hotspur accused him of
treason, and had him tried by a jury ;
but the case was so palpably absurd
and tyrannical, that he was acquitted.
Percy, in great wrath, impannelled a
second jury, and a second verdict of
acquittal shewed their sense and firm­
ness ; but the fierce obstinacy of
feudal revenge was not to be so baffled,
and these were not the days when the
laws could check its violence. A third
jury was summoned, packed, and over­
awed, and their sentence condemned
Sir William Stewart to the cruel and
complicated death of a traitor. It
was instantly executed; and his quar-
ters, with those of his squire, Thomas
Ker, who suffered along with him,
were placed on the gates of York; the
same gates upon which, within a year,
were exposed the mangled remains of
Percy himself.3 The avidity with
which Hotspur seems to have thirsted

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 278.
Winton, vol. ii. p. 403.

1402-3.]                                         ROBERT III.                                                   27

for the blood of this unhappy youth
is only to be accounted for on the
supposition of some deadly feud be­
tween the families; for on no other
occasion did this celebrated soldier
shew himself naturally cruel, or un­
necessarily severe.1

The events which followed the de­
feat of the Scots at Homildon are of
an interesting nature, and merit par­
ticular attention. Not long after the
victory, the Percies began to organise
that celebrated conspiracy against
Henry the Fourth, the monarch
whom their own hands had placed on
the throne, which ended in the battle
of Shrewsbury, and the defeat and
death of Hotspur; but as the plot
was yet in its infancy, an immediate
invasion of Scotland was made the
pretext for assembling an army, and
disarming suspicion; whilst Percy, in
conjunction with the Earl of March,
talked boldly of reducing the whole of
the country as far as the Scottish sea.2
It is probable, indeed, that previous to
this the defeat at Homildon had been
followed by the temporary occupation
of the immense Border estates of the
Earl of Douglas by the Earl of Nor­
thumberland; as, in a grant of the
earldom of Douglas, which was about
this time made to Northumberland
by the King of England, the districts
of Eskdale, and Liddesdale, with the
forest of Ettrick and the lordship of
Selkirk, are noticed as being in the
hands of the Percies; but so numerous
were the vicissitudes of war in these
Border districts, that it is difficult to
ascertain who possessed them with
precision;3 and it is certain that the
recovery of the country by the Scots
was almost simultaneous with its occu­
pation. In the meantime, the com­
bined army of March and the Percies
took its progress towards Scotland;
and commenced the siege of the tower
of Cocklaws, commanded by John
Greenlaw, a simple esquire,4 and situ-

1 Fordun a Hearne, pp. 1150, 1151.

2 The Firth of Forth usually went by this

3 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 163.

4 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 172. It appears by a
MS. letter of the Earl of Northumberland, that
on the 30th May he and his son had inden-

ated on the Borders. The spectacle
of a powerful army, commanded by
the best soldier in England, proceed­
ing to besiege a paltry march-tower,
might have been sufficient to convince
Henry that the real object of the
Percies was not the invasion of Scot­
land; and their subsequent proceed­
ings must have confirmed this opinion.
Assaulted by the archers, and battered
by the trebuchets and mangonels, the
little tower of Cocklaws not only held
its ground, but its master, assuming
the air of the governor of a fortress,
entered into a treaty with Hotspur,
by which he promised to surrender at
the end of six weeks, if not relieved
by the King of Scotland, or Albany
the governor.5 A messenger was de­
spatched to Scotland with the avowed
purpose of communicating this agree­
ment to Albany, but whose real design
was evidently to induce him to become
a party to the conspiracy against Henry,
and to support the Percies, by an im­
mediate invasion of England. Nor
was the mission unsuccessful; for
Albany, anxious to avenge the loss
sustained at Homildon, and irritated
by the captivity of his eldest son, at
once consented to the proposal, and
assembled a numerous army, with
which he prepared to enter England
in person.6 In the meantime, the
Earl of Douglas, Sir Robert Stewart
of Durisdeer, and the greater part of
the barons and men-at-arms, who were
made prisoners at Homildon, eagerly
entered into the conspiracy, and joined
the insurgents with a large force; but
the Earl of March continued faithful
to the King of England, actuated
more, perhaps, by his mortal enmity
to the Douglases, than by any great
affection for Henry. Another alarm­
ing branch of the rebellion was in
Wales, where Owen Glendower had
raised an army of ten thousand men ;
and besides this, many of the English
barons had entered into a correspond­
ence with Percy, and bound themselves
to join him with their power, although
tures for the delivery of Ormiston Castle on
the 1st of August, if not delivered by battle.
Pinkerton’s History, vol. i. p. 77.

5 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 435, 436,

6 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 436.

28                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                             [Chap. I.

at the last most deserted him, and thus
escaped his ruin.

All things being thus prepared,
Henry Percy and the Earl of Douglas
at once broke off the prosecution of
their Scottish expedition; and, having
joined the Earl of Worcester, began
their march towards Wales, giving out
at first that it was their design to
assist the king in putting down the
rebel Glendower. Henry, however,
was no longer to be deceived; and the
representations of the Earl of March
convinced him of the complicated
dangers with which he was surrounded.
It was his design to have delayed pro­
ceeding against the insurgents, until
he had assembled such an overwhelm­
ing force as he thought gave a cer­
tainty of victory; but the Scottish
earl vehemently opposed all procrasti­
nation, maintaining the extreme im­
portance of giving battle to Percy
before he had formed a junction with
Glendower; and the king, following
his advice, pushed on by forced
marches, and entered Shrewsbury at
the moment that the advance of Percy
and Douglas could be seen marching
forward to occupy the same city. On
being anticipated by their opponent,
they retired, and encamped at Hart-
field, within a mile of the town.
Henry immediately drew out his army
by the east gate; and after a vain at­
tempt at treaty, which was broken off
by Percy’s uncle, the Earl of Wor­
cester, the banners advanced, cries of
St George and Esperance, the mutual
defiances of the king and Percy, rent
the air; and the archers on both sides
made a pitiful slaughter, even with the
first discharge. As it continued, the
ranks soon became encumbered with
the dead, “ who lay as thick,” says
Walsingham, “as leaves in autumn;”
and the knights and men-at-arms get­
ting impatient, Percy’s advance, which
was led by Douglas, and consisted
principally of Scottish auxiliaries,
made a desperate charge upon the
king’s party, and had almost broken
their array, when it was restored by
the extreme gallantry of Henry, and
his son the Prince of Wales, afterwards
Henry the Fifth. After this, the

battle continued for three hours to be
obstinately contested, English fighting
against English, and Scots against
Scots, with the utmost cruelty and
determination. It could not indeed
be otherwise. The two armies were
fourteen thousand strong on each side,
and included the flower not only of
the English chivalry, but of the Eng­
lish yeomen. Hotspur and Douglas
were reckoned two of the bravest
knights then living, and if defeated,
could hope for no mercy; whilst Henry
felt that, on his part, the battle must
decide whether he was to continue a
king, or to have the diadem torn from
his brow, and be branded as a usurper.
At one time he was in imminent danger;
for Hotspur and Douglas, during the
heat of the battle, coming opposite to
the royal standard, made a desperate
attempt to become masters of the per­
son of the king; and had so nearly
succeeded, that the Scottish earl slew
Sir Walter Blunt, the standard-bearer,
struck down the Earl of Stafford, and
had penetrated within a few yards of
the spot where Henry stood, when
the Earl of March rushed forward to
his assistance, and prevailed on him
not to hazard himself so far in advance.
On another occasion, when unhorsed,
he was rescued by the Prince of Wales,
who this day gave promise of his future
military genius ; but with all his efforts,
seconded by the most determined
courage in his soldiers, the obstinate
endurance of the Scots, and the un­
wearied gallantry and military skill
of Hotspur were gradually gaining
ground, when this brave leader, as he
raised his visor for a moment to get
air, was pierced through the brain by
an arrow, and fell down dead on the
spot. His fall, which was seen by
both sides, seems to have at once
turned the fortune of the day. The
rebels were broken and dispersed, the
Scots almost entirely cut to pieces,
Sir Robert Steward slain, and the Earl
of Douglas once more a captive, and
severely wounded.1

In the meantime, whilst the rebel­
lion of the Percies was thus success-
fully put down, Albany, the governor,
1 Walsingham, pp. 363, 369.

1403.]                                             ROBERT III.                                                   29

assembled the whole strength of the
kingdom; and, at the head of an army
of fifty thousand men, advanced into
England. His real object, as dis­
covered by his subsequent conduct,
was to second the insurrection of Hot­
spur; but, ignorant as yet that the
rebellion had openly burst forth, he con­
cealed his intention, and gave out to
his soldiers that it was his intention
to give battle to the Percies, and to
raise the siege of Cocklaws.1 On
arriving before this little Border
strength, instead of finding Hotspur,
he was met by the news of his entire
defeat and death in the battle of
Shrewsbury; and, after ordering a
herald to proclaim this to the army,
he at once quietly retired into Scot­
land. Discouraged by the inactivity
of the Welsh, by the death of Percy,
the captivity of Douglas, and the sub­
mission of the Earl of Northumber­
land, Albany judiciously determined
that this was not the most favourable
crisis to attack the usurper, and for
the present resumed a pacific line of
policy. In their account of the re­
bellion of the Percies, and the expedi­
tion of Albany, our ancient Scottish
historians exhibit a singular instance
of credulity in describing the investing
of the Border fortalice by Hotspur,
and the subsequent progress of Albany
to raise the siege, as really and honestly
engaged in by both parties ; and it is
difficult not to smile at the import­
ance which the tower of Cocklaws
and its governor assume in their nar­

If Albany’s government seemed
destined to be inglorious in war, his
civil administration was weak and
vacillating, disgraced by the impunity,
if not by the encouragement, of feudal
tyranny and unlicensed oppression.
Of this a striking instance occurred
a little prior to the rebellion of the
Percies. Sir Malcolm Drummond,
brother to the late Queen of Scotland,
had married Isabella, countess of Mar
in her own right, whose estates were
amongst the richest in Scotland.
When resident in his own castle, this
baron was attacked by a band of
Fordun a Hearne, pp. 1158-1160.

armed ruffians, overpowered, and cast
into a dungeon, where the barbarous
treatment he experienced ended in his
speedy death. The suspicion of this
lawless act rested on Alexander Stew­
art, a natural son of the Earl of Buchan,
brother to the king, who emulated the
ferocity of his father, and became
notorious for his wild and unlicensed
life. This chief, soon after the death
of Drummond, appeared before the
strong castle of Kildrummie, the resi­
dence of the widowed countess, with
an army of ketherans, stormed it in
the face of every resistance, and,
whether by persuasion or by violence
is not certain, obtained her in mar­
riage. To murder the husband, to
marry the widow, and carry off the
inheritance from her children, were
deeds which, even under the mis-
government of Albany, excited the
horror of the people, and called loudly
for redress; but before this could be
obtained, an extraordinary scene was
acted at Kildrummie. Stewart pre­
sented himself at the outer gate of the
castle, and there, in presence of the
Bishop of Ross and the assembled
tenantry and vassals, was met by the
Countess of Mar, upon which, with
much feudal pomp and solemnity, he
surrendered the keys of the castle
into her hands, declaring that he did
so freely and with a good heart, to be
disposed of as she pleased. The lady
then, who seems to have forgotten the
rugged nature of the courtship, hold­
ing the keys in her hands, declared
that she freely chose Alexander Stew­
art for her lord and husband, and that
she conferred on him the earldom of
Mar, the castle of Kildrummie, and
all other lands which she inherited.
The whole proceedings were closed by
solemn instruments or charters being
taken on the spot; and this remark­
able transaction, exhibiting in its com­
mencement and termination so singu­
lar a mixture of the ferocity of feudal
manners and the formality of feudal
law, was legalised and confirmed by a
charter of the king, which ratified the
concession of the countess, and per­
mitted Stewart to assume the titles
of Earl of Mar, and Lord of Garvy-

30                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                            [Chap. I.

ach.1 Yet he who was murdered, to
make way for this extraordinary in­
trusion of the son of Buchan, was the
king’s brother-in-law; and there seems
to have been little doubt that the
successful wooer and the assassin of
Drummond were one and the same
person. Nothing could give us a more
striking proof of the pusillanimity of
the sovereign, the weakness of the law,
and the gross partialities of Albany.

The unquiet and suspicious times
of Henry the Fourth, whose reign
was marked by an almost uninter­
rupted succession of conspiracies,
rendered it an object of great moment
with him to keep at peace with Scot­
land; and it was evidently the inter­
est of that kingdom to cultivate an
amicable relation with England. Its
present danger consisted not so much
in any fears of invasion, or any serious
attempts at conquest, as in the dread
of civil commotion and domestic
tyranny under the partial administra­
tion of Albany. The murder of the
Duke of Rothesay, and the impunity
permitted to the worst crimes com­
mitted by the nobles, clearly proved
that the governor would feel no scru­
ples in removing any further impedi­
ment which stood in the way of his
ambition; and that he looked for in­
dulgence from the favour with which
he treated similar crimes and excesses
in the barons who composed his court,
and with whom he was ready to share
the spoils or the honours which he
had wrested from their legitimate

Under a government like this, the
king became a mere shadow. Im­
pelled by his natural disposition, which
was pacific and contemplative, he had
at first courted retirement, and will­
ingly resigned much of the manage­
ment of the state to his brother ; and
now that the murder of Rothesay had
roused his paternal anxieties, that the
murmurs of the people loudly accused
this brother of so dreadful a crime,
and branded him as the abettor of
all the disorders which distracted the
country, he felt, yet dreaded, the ne-

1 Sutherland Case, by Lord Hailes, chap. v.
p. 43. Winton, vol. ii. p. 404.

cessity of interference ; and, while he
trembled for the safety of his only
remaining son, he found himself un­
equal to the task of instituting proper
measures for his security, or of reas-
suming, in the midst of age and infir­
mities, those toils of government, to
which, even in his younger years, he
had experienced an aversion. Bui
although the unfortunate monarch,
thus surrounded with difficulties,
found little help in his own energy or
resources, friends were still left who
pitied his condition, and felt a just
indignation at the successful tyranny
of the governor. Of these, the princi­
pal was Henry Wardlaw, bishop of St
Andrews, a loyal and generous prelate,
nephew to the Cardinal Wardlaw, and,
like him, distinguished for his emi­
nence as a scholar and his devotion
to literature. To his charge was com­
mitted the heir of the throne, James,
earl of Carrick, then a boy in his
fourteenth year, who was educated in
the castle of St Andrews, under the
immediate eye of the prelate, in the
learning and accomplishments befit­
ting his high rank and already promis­
ing abilities.

In the meantime, the captivity of
so many of the nobles and gentry, who
had been recently taken at Nesbit
Moor, and in the battles of Homildon
Hill and Shrewsbury, had a manifest
effect in quieting Scotland, encourag­
ing its pacific relations, and increasing
its commercial enterprise. The years
which succeeded these fatal conflicts
were occupied with numerous expedi­
tions of the Scottish captives, who,
under the safe-conducts of Henry,
travelled into their own country, and
returned either with money, or with
cargoes of wool, fish, or live stock,
with which they discharged their ran­
som and procured their liberty.2 The
negotiations, also, concerning the ran­
som of Murdoch, the son of Albany,
the Earl of Douglas, and other eminent
prisoners, promoted a constant inter­
course ; whilst the poverty of Scotland,
in its agricultural produce, is seen in
the circumstance that any English

2 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 164 166, 167,
172, 173, 177.

1403-5.]                                        ROBERT III.                                                    31

captives are generally redeemed in
grain, and not in money. Some Nor­
folk fishermen, who had probably
been pursuing their occupation upon
the Scottish coast, having been cap­
tured and imprisoned, Henry per­
mitted two mariners of Lynne to
carry six hundred quarters of grain
into Scotland for their redemption ;
and at the same time granted a licence
to an Irish merchant to import corn,
flour, and other victuals and merchan­
dise into that country, during the
continuance of the truce.1 Upon the
whole, the commercial intercourse
between the two countries appears to
have been prosecuted with great ac­
tivity, although interrupted at sea by
the lawless attacks of the English
cruisers,2 and checked by the depre­
dations of the Borderers and broken
men of both nations.

One cause, however, for jealousy
and dissatisfaction upon the part of
Henry still remained, in the perpetual
reports which proceeded from Scot­
land, with regard to Richard the
Second being still alive in that coun­
try, where, it was said, he continued
to be treated with kindness and dis­
tinction. That these assertions as to
the reappearance of the dethroned
monarch long after his reputed death
had some foundation in truth, there
seems reason to believe ;3 but, whether
true or not, it was no unwise policy
in Albany to abstain from giving any
public contradiction to the rumour,
and at times even to encourage it, as
in this manner he essentially weakened
the government of Henry; and, by
affording him full employment at
home, rendered it difficult for him
to engage in any schemes for the an­
noyance of his neighbours.

In 1404, a gentleman named Serle,
who had formerly been of Richard’s
bed-chamber, repaired secretly to
Scotland, and on his return positively
affirmed that he had seen the king.

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 172.

2 Fœdera. vol. viii. pp. 411. 420, 450 ; and

MS. Bibl. Cot. F. vii. No. 22, 89, 116-118,

quoted in M’Pherson’s Annals of Commerce,

vol. i. p. 615.
See Historical Remarks on the Death of

Richard the Second, infra.

The old Countess of Oxford, mother
to Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland,
the favourite of Richard, eagerly gave
credit to the story; and, by the pro­
duction of letters, and the present of
little silver harts, the gifts which the
late king had been fond of distribut­
ing amongst his favourites, she had
already contrived to persuade many
persons to credit the report, when her
practices were discovered, and the ex­
ecution and confession of Serle put
an end to the rumour for the present.
It was asserted that Serle had actually
been introduced, when in Scotland, to
a person whom he declared to bear so
exact a resemblance to Richard the
Second that it was not astonishing
many should be deceived by it; and
it was evident that if Albany had not
lent himself in any open manner to
encourage, he had not, on the other
hand, adopted any means to expose or
detect the alleged impostor.4

But this plot of Serle and the
Countess of Oxford was followed by
a conspiracy of greater moment, in
which Scotland was deeply concerned,
yet whose ramifications, owing to the
extreme care with which all written
evidence, in such circumstances, was
generally concealed or destroyed, were
extremely difficult to be detected. Its
principal authors appear to have been
the Earl of Northumberland, the father
of Hotspur, Scrope, the archbishop of
York, whose brother Henry had be­
headed, and the Earl Marshal of Eng­
land, with the Lords Hastings, Bar-
dolf, and Faulconbridge; but it is
certain that they received the cordial
concurrence of some party in the Scot­
tish state, as Northumberland engaged
to meet them at the general rendez­
vous at York, not only with his own
followers, but with a large reinforce­
ment of Scottish soldiers, and it was
calculated that they would be able to
take the field with an army of twenty
thousand men.5 Besides this, they
had engaged in a correspondence with
the French king, who promised to

4 Walsingham, p. 371.

5 Hall's Chronicle, p. 35. Edition 1809.
London, 4to. Hardyng’s Chronicle, p. 362.
Edition 1812. London, 4to.

32                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

despatch an expedit on, which, at the
moment they took up arms in Eng­
land, was to make a descent on Wales,
where Owen Glendower, the fierce and
indefatigable opponent of Henry, had
promised to join them; and this for­
midable opposition was to be further
strengthened by a simultaneous inva­
sion of the Scots.

Northumberland’s intentions in this
conspiracy are very clearly declared
in an intercepted letter which he ad­
dressed to the Duke of Orleans, and
which is preserved in the Parliamen­
tary Rolls. “ I have embraced,” says
he, “a firm purpose, with the assist­
ance of God, with your aid, and that
of my allies, to sustain the just quarrel
of my sovereign lord King Richard, if
he is alive; and if he is dead, to
avenge his death ; and, moreover, to
sustain the right and quarrel which
my redoubted lady the Queen of Eng­
land, your niece, may have to the
kingdom of England; for which pur­
pose I have declared war against
Henry of Lancaster, at present Regent
of England.”1

A rebellion so ably planned that it
seemed almost impossible that it
should not succeed and hurl Henry
from the throne, was ruined by the
credulity of the Earl Marshal and the
Archbishop, who became the victims
of an adherent of the king’s, Neville,
Earl of Westmoreland. This noble­
man, who had received intelligence of
the plot, artfully represented himself
as warmly interested in its success;
and having prevailed upon Scrope and
Mowbray to meet him in a private
conference, seized them both as they
sat at his table and hurried them to
the king at Pontefract, by whose
orders they were instantly beheaded.
Northumberland, however, with his
little grandson, Henry Percy, and the
Lord Bardolf, had the good fortune to
escape into Scotland, where they were
courteously received by Albany.

In this country, notwithstanding
his advanced age and frequent failures,
Percy continued to organise an oppo­
sition to the government of Henry;

1 Rolls of Parliament, vol. iii. p. 005. The
original is in French.

visiting for this purpose the court of
France and the Flemish States, and
returning to stimulate the exertions of
his Scottish friends. Although un­
successful in his continental negotia­
tions, it is evident from the orders
issued by Henry for the immediate
array of the fighting men in the coun­
ties of York and Lancaster, as well as
in Derby, Lincoln, and Nottingham,
that Albany had been induced to as­
semble an army, and that the king
had received intelligence of an in-
tended invasion by the Scots, to be
led, as the king expresses it, “ by his
common adversary, Robert, duke of
Albany, the pretended governor of
Scotland.”2 Previous, however, to any
such expedition, an event took place
which effectually altered the relations
between the governor and the English
monarch, and introduced material
changes into the state of the different
parties in Scotland.

The continuance of his own power,
and the adoption of every means by
which the authority of the king, or
the respect and affection due to the
royal family, could be weakened or de­
stroyed, was the principle of Albany’s
government : a principle which, al­
though sometimes artfully concealed,
was never for a moment forgotten by
this crafty statesman. In his designs
he had been all along supported by
the Douglases; a family whom he at­
tached to his interest by an ample
share in the spoils with which his
lawless government enabled him to
gratify his creatures. Archibald, earl
of Douglas, the head of the house, we
have seen become his partner in the
murder of the Duke of Rothesay, and
rewarded by the possession of the im­
mense estates of the Earl of March,—
a baron next to Douglas,—the most
powerful of the Scottish aristocracy,
but compelled by the affront put upon
his daughter to become a fugitive in
England, and a dependant upon the
bounty of a foreign prince.

The battle of Homildon Hill made

Douglas a captive; whilst many of his

most powerful adherents shared his

fate: and Albany, deprived of the

2 Ryraer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 414,

1405-6.]                                        ROBERT III.                                                   33

countenance of his steadiest support­
ers, found the friends of the old king
gradually gaining ground. A natural
jealousy of the designs of the governor
against a youth who formed the only
impediment between his own family
and the succession to the crown, in­
duced these persons to adopt measures
for the security of the Earl of Carrick,
now an only son. It was with this
view that they had placed him under
the charge of the Bishop of St An­
drews, a man of uncorrupted honour
and integrity; and, whilst the studies
of the young prince were carefully
conducted by this prelate, whose de­
votion to literature well fitted him for
the task, the presence of the warlike
Earl of Northumberland, who with
his grandson, young Henry Percy, had
found an asylum in the castle of the
bishop, was of great service to the
young prince in his chivalrous exer­
cises. It was soon seen, however, that,
with all these advantages, Scotland was
then no fit place for the residence of
the youthful heir to the throne. The
intrigues of Albany, and the unsettled
state of the country, filled the bosom
of the timid monarch with constant
alarm. He became anxious to remove
him for a season from Scotland; and, as
France was at this time considered the
best school in Europe for the educa­
tion of a youth of his high rank, it was
resolved to send the prince thither,
under the care of the Earl of Orkney,1
and Sir David Fleming of Cumber­
nauld, an intimate friend and adherent
of the exiled Earl of Northumberland.
At this crisis a secret negotiation
took place between the English mon­
arch and the Duke of Albany regarding
the delivery of Northumberland and
Lord Bardolf; and it appears that the
party of the governor and the Doug­
lases had embraced the treacherous
plan of sacrificing the lives of two un­
fortunate exiles who had found an
asylum in Scotland, to procure in re­
turn the liberty of Murdoch, the son
of the governor, the Earl of Douglas,
and other captives who had been taken
at Homildon. A baser project could
not well be imagined; but it was acci-
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 415.

dentally discovered by Percy’s friend,
David Fleming, who instantly revealed
it to the exiled noblemen, and advised
them to consult their safety by flight.

This conduct of Albany, which af­
forded a new light into the treachery
of his character, accelerated the pre­
parations for the young prince’s de­
parture ; and all being at length ready,
the Earl of Carrick, then a boy in his
fourteenth year, took his progress
through Lothian to North Berwick,
accompanied by the Earl of Orkney,
Fleming of Cumbernauld, the Lords
of Dirleton and Hermandston, and a
strong party of the barons of Lothian.
The ship which was to convey him to
France lay at the Bass; and having
embarked along with the Earl of Ork­
ney and a small personal suite, they
set sail with a fair wind, and under no
apprehension for their safety, as the
truce between England and Scotland
was not yet expired, and the only ves­
sels they were likely to meet were
English cruisers. But the result
shewed how little was to be trusted to
the faith of truces or to the honour of
kings; for the prince had not been a
few days at sea when he was captured
off Flamborough Head by an armed
merchantman belonging to the port of
Wye, and carried to London, where
the king instantly committed him and
his attendants to the Tower.2

In vain did the guardians of the
young prince remonstrate against
this cruelty, or present to Henry a
letter from the king his father, which,
with much simplicity, recommended
him to the kindness of the English
monarch, should he find it necessary
to land in his dominions. In vain did
they represent that the mission to
France was perfectly pacific, and its
only object the education of the prince
at the French court. Henry merely
answered by a poor witticism, declar­
ing that he himself knew the French
language indifferently well, and that
his father could not have sent him to
a better master.3 So flagrant a breach

2  Walsingham, p. 375. Winton, vol. ii. pp.
415, 416.

3  Walsingham, p. 375. Extracta ex Chroni-
cis Scotiæ, p. 253.


34                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

of the law of nations as the seizure
and imprisonment of the heir-apparent
during the time of truce, would have
called for the most violent remon­
strances from any government except
that of Albany. But to this usurper
of the supreme power, the capture of
the prince was the most grateful event
which could have happened; and to
detain him in captivity became, from
this moment, one of the principal ob­
jects of his future life ; we are not to
wonder, then, that the conduct of
Henry not only drew forth no indig­
nation from the governor, but was
not even followed by any request that
the prince should be restored to liberty.

Whilst Albany’s satisfaction was
great at this unfortunate event, his
indignation, and that of the Douglases,
at the conduct of Sir David Fleming,
in attempting to convey the heir-ap­
parent to a place of safety, and in
facilitating the escape of Northumber­
land, was proportionably fierce and un­
forgiving ; nor was it quenched until
they had taken a bloody revenge. At
the moor of Lang-Hermandston, the
party which had accompanied the
prince to North Berwick were attacked
by James Douglas of Abercorn, second
son of the Earl of Douglas, and Alex­
ander Seton, where, after a fierce con­
flict, Fleming was slain, and the most
of the barons who accompanied him
made prisoners. A procession which
passed next day through Edinburgh,
conveying to Holyrood the body of
thi3 noble knight, who was celebrated
for his courage, tenderness, and fide­
lity, excited much commiseration;
but the populace did not dare to rise
against the Douglases, and Albany
openly protected them. Those bitter
feelings of wrath and desires of re­
venge, which so cruel an attack ex­
cited, now broke out into interminable
feuds and jealousies, and, ramifying
throughout the whole line of the vas­
sals of these two powerful families,
continued for many years to agitate
the minds of the people, and disturb
the tranquillity of the country.1

The aged king, already worn out by

1 Winton,vol.ii.p.413. Forduna Goodal, vol.
ii. p. 439. Extracta ex Chronicis Scotiœ, p. 153.

infirmity, and now broken by disap­
pointment and sorrow, did not long
survive the captivity of his son. It is
said the melancholy news was brought
him as he was sitting down to supper
in his palace of Rothesay in Bute; and
that the effect was such upon his
affectionate but feeble spirit, that he
drooped from that day forward, re­
fused all sustenance, and died soon
after of a broken heart. His death
took place on the 4th of April 1406,
in the sixteenth year of his reign ; and
Albany, his brother, immediately suc­
ceeded to the prize which had so long
been the paramount object of his am­
bition, by becoming the unfettered
governor of Scotland, The character
of this monarch requires little addi­
tional development. It was of that
sweet, pacific, and indolent nature,
which unfitted him to subdue the
pride, or overawe and control the
fierce passions and resentments of his
barons; and although the generosity
and affectionate feelings of his heart
inclined him on every occasion to be
the friend of the poorer classes of his
subjects, yet energy and courage were
wanting to make these good wishes
effectual; and it might almost be said,
that in the dread of making any one
his enemy, he made no one his friend.
All the virtues of domestic life he pos­
sessed in a high degree; but these, as
well as his devotion to intellectual
accomplishments, were thrown away
upon the rude times in which he lived.
His wisdom, which was far before his
age, saw clearly that the greatest bless­
ing which could be conferred upon the
country was peace ; but it required
firmness, and almost violence, to carry
these convictions into the active man­
agement of the government, and these
were qualities which Robert could not
command. Had he been born in the
rank of a subject, he would have been
among the best and wisest men in his
dominions ; but as a king, his timidity
and irresolution rendered all his vir­
tues of none avail, and permitted the
government to fall into the hands of
a usurper, who systematically abused
his power for the purposes of his own

1406-8.]                             REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                       35

In person, Rooert was tall, and of a
princely presence; his countenance
was somewhat florid, but pleasing and
animated; whilst a beard of great
length, and silvery whiteness, flowed
down his breast, and gave a look of
sanctity to his appearance. Humility,
a deep conviction of the vanity of
human grandeur, and aspirations for
the happiness of a better world, were
sentiments which he is said to have
deeply felt, and frequently expressed;
and nothing could prevail on him, in
the custom of the age, and after the
example of his father and grandfather,
to provide a monument for himself.
It is said that his queen, Annabella,
remonstrated with him on this occa­
sion, when he rebuked her for speak­
ing like one of the foolish women.
“You consider not,” said he, “how
little it becomes a wretched worm,
and the vilest of sinners, to erect a
proud tomb for his miserable remains :
let them who delight in the honours
of this world so employ themselves.
As for me, cheerfully would I be
buried in the meanest shed on earth,
could I thus secure rest to my soul in
the day of the Lord.”1 He was in­
terred, however, in the Abbey church
of Paisley, before the high altar.

It has hitherto been believed by our
Scottish historians, that there were
born to him only two sons, David,
duke of Rothesay, and James, earl of
Carrick, who succeeded him in the
throne. It is certain, however, that
the king had a third son, Robert, who
probably died very young, but whose
existence is proved by a record of un­
questionable authority.2

Upon the king’s death, the three
estates of the realm assembled in par­
liament at Perth; and having first
made a solemn declaration that James,
earl of Carrick, then a captive in Eng­
land, was their lawful king, and that
the crown belonged of undoubted right
to the heirs of his body, the Duke of

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 440.

2 Chamberlain Accounts, vol. ii. p. 231.
“ Et Dno David Comiti de Carrick percipienti
pro se et heredibus suis de corpore suo legi-
time procreandis, quibus forte deficientibus,
Roberto seneschallo fratri ipsius, et heredibus

Albany, being the next in succession,
was chosen Regent;3 and it was de­
termined to send an embassy to the
French court, for the purpose of re­
newing the league of mutual defence
and alliance which had so long sub­
sisted between the two countries.
For this purpose, Sir Walter Stewart
of Ralston, Lawder, archdeacon of
Lothian, along with two esquires,
John Gil and John de Leth, were
selected to negotiate with France; and
their mission, as was to be expected
from the exasperated feelings which
were common to both countries with
regard to their adversary of England,
was completely successful. Charles
the Sixth, king of France, Louis his
brother, duke of Anjou, and the Duke
of Berry, by three separate deeds, each
acting in his own name, ratified and
confirmed the treaties formerly entered
into between their country and the
late King of Scotland; and assured
the Duke of Albany, then regent of
that kingdom, of their resolution to
maintain the same firm and inviolate
in all time to come.4

With regard to England, Albany
now earnestly desired the continuance
of peace; and it was fortunate that
the principles which influenced his
government, although selfish, and cal­
culated for the preservation of his own
power, proved at this moment the
best for the interests of the country ;
whilst the English king, in the posses­
sion of the young heir to the throne,
and master, also, of the persons of the
chief nobility who had remained in
captivity since the battle of Homildon
Hill, was able to assume a decided
tone in his negotiations, and exerted
an influence over the governor which
he had not formerly enjoyed. A short
time previous to the king’s death, nego­
tiations had been renewed for the con­
tinuance of the truce, and for the
return of the Earl of Douglas to Scot­
land. The high value placed upon
this potent baron, and the power of
weakening Scotland which the Eng­
lish king possessed at this time, may

3  Winton, vol. ii. p. 418.

4  Records of the Parliament of Scotland,
pp. 137, 138.

36                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

be estimated from the circumstance
that he would not permit his return
until thirteen hostages, selected from
the first families in the country, had
repaired to Westminster and delivered
themselves to the king.1 It was one
happy effect of the power and wealth
which the capture of many noble pri­
soners necessarily conferred on those
to whom they surrendered, that it
softened the atrocities of war and
diminished the effusion of blood. The
only impediments to the continuance
of peace arose out of the piracies of
English cruisers and armed merchant­
men, which, on the slightest provoca­
tion, were ready to make prize of any
vessel they met—French, Flemish,
Genoese, or Scottish; and it is a sin­
gular circumstance that, at this early
period, we find the English ships
beginning to insist on their superior
right to the dominion of the seas,
which they afterwards so proudly
maintained. In 1402, a formal com­
plaint was presented to Henry the
Fourth by the magistrates of Bruges,
which stated that two fishermen, one
belonging to Ostend and the other to
Briel, when engaged in the herring
fishery of the North Sea, had been
captured by the English and carried
into Hull, although they lowered their
sails the moment they were hailed.2

On the other hand, the Scots were
not slow to make reprisals; although
their power at sea, which we have
seen so formidable during the reigns
of Edward the Second and Third, ap­
pears to have experienced a sensible
diminution. In 1404, the fishery on
the coast of Aberdeenshire—a source
of considerable wealth—had been in­
vaded by the English : a small fleet of
Scottish ships was immediately fitted
out by Sir Robert Logan, who attacked
and attempted to destroy some Eng­
lish vessels; but his force was insuffi­
cient, his ships were taken, and he
himself carried prisoner into the port

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 177.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 274, “quan-
quam ad primam vocem ipsorum Anglicorum
idem Johannes Willes, velum suum de-
clinavit. “ M ’Pherson’s Annals of Commerce,
vol. i. p. 612.

of Lynne in Norfolk.3 Stewart, earl
of Mar, with whose singular court­
ship and marriage we are already ac­
quainted, after amusing his taste for
adventures in foreign war,4 leading the
life of a knight-errant, and dividing
his time between real fighting and the
recreations of tilts and tournaments,
became latterly a pirate, and with a
small squadron infested the coast
between Berwick and Newcastle, de­
stroying or making prizes of the Eng­
lish vessels.

These hostile invasions, which ap­
pear to have been mutually com­
mitted on each other by the English
and the Scottish merchantmen, were
not openly countenanced by either
government. No regular maritime
laws for the protection of trade and
commerce had as yet been practically
established in Europe ; the vessels
which traded from one country to
another, were the property not of the
nation, but of individuals, who, if
their own gain or interest interfered,
did not consider themselves bound by
treaties or truces; and when a ship of
greater strength met a small merchant­
man richly laden, and incapable of
resistance, the temptation to make
themselves master of her cargo was
generally too strong to be resisted.5
Henry, however, shewed himself will­
ing to redress the grievances suffered
by the Scottish merchants, as well as
to put an end to the frequent infrac­
tions of the truce which were com­
mitted by the Borderers of both na­
tions; and the perpetual grants of
letters of safe ­conduct to natives of
Scotland travelling through England
on purposes of devotion, commerce, or
pleasure, and eager to shew their
prowess in deeds of arms, or to seek
for distinction in continental war,
evinced a sincere anxiety to keep up
an amicable relation between the two
countries, and to pave the way for a
lasting peace.6

The return to their country of the

3  Walsingham, p. 364.

4  Juvenal des Ursins, Histoire de Charles
VI. p. 196.

5 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. pp. 203, 420.
Rotuli Scotiæ, pp. 176-180. Rvmer, vol.
viii. pp. 416, 430, 445, 450.

1408-9.]                            REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        37

two most powerful barons in the state,
—the Earls of Douglas and of March,
—with the “ stanching of that mortal
feud which had long continued be­
tween them,” was another event that
promised the best effects. The im­
mense estates of March, which during
his exile had been occupied by Douglas,
were restored to him, with the excep­
tion of the lordship of Annandale
and the castle of Lochmaben. These
were retained by Douglas; and, in
addition to the thirteen noble persons
who were compelled to remain in Eng­
land as hostages for his return, Henry
extorted from him a ransom of a thou­
sand marks before he consented to his
departure.1 Amongst the hostages
were Archibald Douglas, eldest son of
the earl, and James, his son ; James,
the son and heir of James Douglas,
lord of Dalkeith; Sir William Douglas
of Niddesdale, Sir John Seton, Sir
Simon Glendinning, Sir John Mont­
gomery, Sir John Stewart of Lorn, Sir
William Graham, Sir William Sinclair
of Hermandston, and others of the
first rank and consequence.2 The re­
sidence of these persons in England,
and the care which Henry bestowed
upon the education of their youthful
monarch, who, though still retained in
captivity, was provided with the best
masters, treated with uniform kind­
ness, and waited on with the honours
due to his rank, contributed to in­
crease the amicable intercourse be­
tween the two countries, and to give
to both a short and happy interval of

It was in the midst of this pacific
period that the doctrines of Wicklifff or
the first time appeared in Scotland;
and the flames of war had scarcely
ceased, when the more dreadful flames
of religious persecution were kindled
in the country. John Resby, an Eng­
lish priest of the school of this great
reformer, in whose remarkable works
are to be found the seeds of almost
every doctrine of Luther, had passed
into Scotland, either in consequence

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 182, 184. Harl.
MS. 381. f. 212, quoted in Pinkerton’s History,
vol. i. p. 87. Fortlun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 444.

2 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 181, 182.

of the persecutions of Wickliff's fol­
lowers, which arose after his death, or
from a desire to propagate the truth.
After having for some time remained
unnoticed, the boldness and the novelty
of his opinions at length awakened the
jealousy of the church; and it was
asserted that he preached the most
dangerous heresies. He was imme­
diately seized by Laurence of Lin-
dores, an eminent doctor in theology,
and compelled to appear before a coun­
cil of the clergy, where this inquisitor
presided. Here he was accused of
maintaining no fewer than forty here­
sies, amongst which the principal were,
a denial of the authority of the pope
as the successor of St Peter; a con­
temptuous opinion of the utility of
penances and auricular confession; and
an assertion that an absolutely sinles3
life was necessary in any one who
dared to call himself the Vicar of

Although Resby was esteemed an
admirable preacher by the common
people, his eloquence, as may easily
be supposed, had little effect upon the
bench of ecclesiastical judges before
whom he defended himself. Laurence
of Lindores was equally triumphant in
his confutation of the written conclu­
sions, and in his answers to the spoken
arguments by which their author at­
tempted to support them; and the
brave but unfortunate inquirer after
the truth was barbarously condemned
to the flames, and delivered over to
the secular arm. The cruel sentence
was carried into immediate execution ;
and he was burnt at Perth in the year
1407, his books and writings being
consumed in the same fire with their
master. It is probable that the church
was stimulated to this unjustifiable se­
verity by Albany, the governor, whose
bitter hatred to all Lollards and here­
tics, and zeal for the purity of the
Catholic faith, are particularly re­
corded by Winton.4

And here, in the first example of per­
secution for religious opinions which
is recorded in our history, the inevit­
able effects of such a course were

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 442, 443,
Winton’s Chronicle, vol. ii. p. 419.

38                                 HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. I.

clearly discernible in the increased zeal
and affection which were evinced for
the opinions which had been sealed by
the blood of the preacher. The con­
clusions and little pamphlets of this
early reformer were carefully concealed
and preserved by his disciples; and
any who had imbibed his opinions
evinced a resolution and courage in
maintaining them, which resisted every
attempt to restore them to the bosom
of the church. They did not dare,
indeed, to disseminate them openly,
but they met, and read, and debated
in secret; and the doctrines which had
been propagated by Resby remained
secretly cherished in the hearts of his
disciples, and reappeared after a few
years in additional strength, and with
a spirit of more active and determined
proselytism.1 It is not improbable,
also, that amongst Resby’s forty here­
tical conclusions were included some
of those doctrines regarding the origin
and foundation of the power of the
civil magistrate and the rights of the
people, which, being peculiar to the
Lollards, were regarded with extreme
jealousy by the higher orders in the
state; and Albany’s persecution of the
heretics may have proceeded as much
upon civil as on religious grounds.

Since the fatal battle of Durham,
the castle of Jedburgh had been kept
by the English. In its masonry, it
was one of the strongest built for­
tresses in Scotland; and its garrison,
by their perpetual attacks and plun­
dering expeditions, had given great
annoyance to the adjacent country.
The moment the truce expired, the
Teviotdale Borderers recommenced the
war by reducing this castle; but on
attempting to destroy the fortifica­
tions, it was found that such was the
induration and tenacity of the mortar,
that the whole walls and towers seemed
one mass of solid stone; and that the
expense of razing and levelling the
works would be great. In a parlia­
ment held at Perth, a proposal was
made to raise the sum required by a
general tax of two pennies upon every

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 442. Ap­
pendix to Dr M’Crie’s Life of Melville, vol. i.
p. 418.

hearth in the kingdom. But this the
governor opposed, observing, that dur­
ing the whole course of his admin­
istration, no such tax ever had been,
or ever should be, levied; and that
they who countenanced such an abuse
merited the maledictions of the poor.
He concluded by giving orders that
the sum required should be paid to
the lords marchers out of the royal
customs—a liberality which was much
extolled, and gained him high credit
with the people.2

In the following year, a violent
remonstrance was addressed by the
English monarch to the Duke of Al­
bany, complaining of the delay of the
Earl of Douglas to fulfil his knightly
word, by which he had solemnly en­
gaged to return to his captivity; and
threatening to use his hostages accord­
ing to the laws of war, and to pursue
the earl himself as a perjured rebel, if
within a month he did not re-enter his
person in ward. Douglas had, in truth,
delayed his return to England a year
beyond the stipulated period; and as
the castle of Jedburgh was situated
within his territories, it was naturally
supposed by Henry that he had not
been over scrupulous in observing the
strict conditions of amity, and adhe­
rence to the “ party of the King of
England,” to which he had set his hand
and seal before regaining his liberty.
Matters, however, were amicably com-
posed between the offended monarch
and his prisoner; and Douglas, having
permanently purchased his liberty by
the payment of a high ransom, once
more returned to assume his wonted
authority in the councils of the

For some time after the reduction
of Jedburgh, the war presented few
features of interest or importance
Fast castle, a strength considered im­
pregnable from its peculiar situation,
had been occupied, during the con­
vulsions of the times, by an English
adventurer named Holder, who, com­
bining the avocations of a freebooter
on shore and a pirate at sea, became
the terror of the country round his

2 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 444.
Rymer. Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 478.

1410-11.]                          REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        39

retreat. For such purposes the castle
was admirably adapted. It was built
upon a high rock overhanging the Ger­
man ocean, so rugged and precipitous
that all attack on that side was impos­
sible ; and it communicated with the
adjoining country by a narrow neck of
land, defended by a barbican, where a
handful of resolute men could have de­
fied an army. Notwithstanding these
difficulties, Patrick Dunbar, son of the
Earl of March, made himself master of
the castle, and delivered the country
from the depredations of its ferocious
lord; but the particulars of the enter­
prise are unfortunately lost, and we
only know that it was distinguished
by the utmost address and courage.1

About the same time, Gawin Dun-
bar, March’s second son, and Archibald
Douglas of Drumlanrig, attacked and
gave to the flames the town of Rox­
burgh, then in possession of the Eng­
lish ; but these partial successes were
more than counterbalanced by the
losses sustained by the Scots. Sir
Robert Umfraville, vice-admiral of
England, with a squadron of ten ships
of war, broke into the Forth, ravaged
the country on both sides, and col­
lected an immense booty, after which
he swept the seas with his fleet, and
made prizes of fourteen Scottish mer­
chantmen. At the time of Umfra-
ville’s invasion, there happened to be
a grievous dearth of grain in England,
and the quantity of corn which he
carried off from Scotland so materially
reduced the prices of provisions, that
it procured him the popular surname
of Robin Mendmarket. On another
occasion, the same experienced leader,
who had charge of the military educa­
tion of Gilbert Umfraville, titular Earl
of Angus, determined to hold a mili­
tary array in honour of his youthful
pupil, who had just completed his
fourteenth year. His banner, accord­
ingly, was raised for the first time
amidst the shouts of his vassals; and
the festivities were concluded by a
Border “ raid,” in which Jedburgh was
sacked during its public fair, and re­
duced to ashes.

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 444. “ Non
minus subtiliter quam viriliter.”

But the attention of the country
was soon after this diverted from such
brief and insulated hostilities to an
event of a more serious and formidable
nature, which shook the security of
the government, and threatened to
dismember a portion of the kingdom.
This was the rebellion of Donald, lord
of the Isles, of which the origin and
the effects merit particular consider­
ation. The ancient line of barons,
which for a long period of years had
succeeded to the earldom of Ross,
ended at length in a female, Euphemia
Ross, married to Sir Walter Lesley.
Of this marriage there were two chil­
dren : Alexander, afterwards Earl of
Ross, and Margaret, married to Donald,
lord of the Isles, Alexander, earl of
Ross, married a daughter of the Duke
of Albany, and had by her an only
daughter, Euphemia, countess of Ross,
who became a nun, and resigned the
earldom of Ross in favour of her uncle,
John, earl of Buchan. This destina­
tion of the property, the Lord of the
Isles steadily and haughtily resisted
He contended, that by Euphemia tak­
ing the veil, she became civilly dead;
and that the earldom of Ross belonged
lawfully to him in right of Margaret,
his wife.2 His plea was at once re­
pelled by the governor; and this noble
territory, which included the Isle of
Skye and a district in the mainland
equal in extent to a little kingdom,
was declared to be the property of
the Earl of Buchan. But the island
prince, who had the pride and the
power of an independent monarch,
derided the award of Albany, and,
collecting an army of ten thousand
men, prepared not only to seize the
disputed county, but determined to
carry havoc and destruction into the
heart of Scotland. Nor, in the midst
of these ferocious designs, did he want
somewhat of a statesmanlike policy,
for he engaged in repeated alliances
with England; and, as the naval force
which he, commanded was superior to
any Scottish fleet which could be
brought against him, his co-operation
with the English in their attacks upon

2 Sutherland Case, by Lord Hailes, chap. v.
§ 7.

40                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

the Scottish commerce was likely to
produce very serious effects.1

When his preparations were com­
pleted, he at once broke in upon the
earldom at the head of his fierce mul­
titudes, who were armed after the
fashion of their country, with swords
fitted both to cut and thrust, pole-
axes, bows and arrows, short knives,
and round bucklers formed of wood,
or strong hide, with bosses of brass or
iron. The people of the country
readily submitted to him; to have
attempted opposition, indeed, was im­
possible ; and these northern districts
had for many centuries been more
accustomed to pay their allegiance to
the Norwegian yarls, or pirate kings,
whose power was at their door, than
to acknowledge the remote superiority
of the Scottish crown. At Dingwall,
however, he was encountered by a for­
midable opponent in Angus Dhu, or
Black Angus, who attacked him with
great fierceness, but was overpowered
and made prisoner, after his brother,
Roderic Gald, and the greater part of
his men had been cut to pieces.

The Lord of the Isles then ordered
a general rendezvous of his army at
Inverness, and sent his summons to
levy all the fighting men in Boyne
and Enzie, who were compelled to
follow his banner, and to join the sol­
diers from the Isles; with this united
force, consisting of the best levies in
the islands and the north, he swept
through Moray, meeting with none,
or the most feeble resistance; whilst
his soldiers covered the land like lo­
custs, and the plunder of money,
arms, and provisions, daily gave them
new spirits and energy. Strathbogie
was next invaded; and the extensive
district of Garvyach, which belonged
to his rival, the Earl of Mar, was
delivered up to cruel and indiscrimi­
nate havoc. It had been the boast
of the invader that he would burn the
rich burgh of Aberdeen, and make a
desert of the country to the shores of
the Tay; and as the smoke of his
camp-fires was already seen on the
banks of the Don, the unhappy
burghers began to tremble in their

1 Rymer. Fœdera, vol. viii. pp 418, 527.

booths, and to anticipate the realisa­
tion of these dreadful menaces.2 But
their spirits soon rose when the Earl
of Mar, whose reputation as a military
leader was of the highest order, ap­
peared at the head of an army com­
posed of the bravest knights and gen­
tlemen in Angus and the Mearns, and
declared his resolution of instantly
advancing against the invader. Mar
had the advantage of having been
bred up in the midst of Highland war,
and at first distinguished himself, as
we have seen, by his predatory expe­
ditions at the head of the Highlanders.
But his marriage with the Countess
of Mar, and his reception at court,
appear to have effectually changed his
character: the savage habits of his
early life were softened down, and left
behind them a talent for war, and an
ambition for renown, which restlessly
sought for employment wherever there
was a chance of gaining distinction.
When on the continent, he had offered
his services to the Duke of Burgundy ;
and the victory at Liege was mainly
ascribed to his skill and courage, so
that his reputation abroad was as dis­
tinguished as at home. In a short
time he found himself at the head of
the whole power of Mar and Garvy-
ach, in addition to that of Angus and
the Mearns; Sir Alexander Ogilvy,
sheriff of Angus; Sir James Scrym-
geour, constable of Dundee, and here­
ditary standard-bearer of Scotland ;
Sir Alexander Irvine, Sir Robert Mel­
ville, Sir William de Abernethy,
nephew to Albany, and many other
barons and esquires, with their feudal
services, joined him with displayed
banner; and Sir Robert Davidson, the
provost of Aberdeen, and a troop of
the stoutest burgesses, came forward
to defend their hearths and their stalls
from the ravages of the Lord of the

Mar immediately advanced from
Aberdeen, and, marching by Inverury,
came in sight of the Highlanders at
the village of Harlaw, on the water of
Ury, not far from its junction with
the Don. He found that his little
army was immensely outnumbered
Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 445.

1411-13.]                          REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        41

it is said, by nearly ten to one ; but it
consisted of the bravest barons in
these parts; and his experience had
taught him to consider a single knight
in steel as a fair match against a
whole troop of ketherans. Without
delay, therefore, he intrusted the lead­
ing of the advance to the Constable of
Dundee and Ogilvy, the sheriff of
Angus, who had with them a small
but compact battalion of men-at-arms;
whilst he himself followed with the
rearward, composed of the main
strength of his army, including the
Irvings, the Maules, the Morays, the
Straitons, the Lesleys, the Stirlings,
the Lovels, headed by their chiefs,
and with their banners and penon-
celles waving amid their grove of
spears. Of the Islesmen and High­
landers, the principal leaders were the
Lord of the Isles himself, with Mac­
intosh and Maclean, the heads of their
respective septs, and innumerable
other chiefs and chieftains, animated
by the old and deep-rooted hostility
between the Celtic and Saxon race.1

The shock between two such armies
may be easily imagined to have been
dreadful: the Highlanders, who were
ten thousand strong, rushing on with
the fierce shouts and yells which it
was their custom to raise in coming
into battle, and the knights meeting
them with levelled spears and ponder­
ous maces and battle-axes. In his first
onset, Scrymgeour and the men-at-
arms who fought under him with
little difficulty drove back the mass of
Islesmen, and, cutting his way through
their thick columns, made a cruel
slaughter. But though hundreds
fell around him, thousands poured
in to supply their place, more fierce
and fresh than their predecessors;
whilst Mar, who had penetrated with
his main army into the very heart
of the enemy, found himself in the
same difficulties, becoming every
moment more tired with slaughter,
more encumbered with the numbers

1 In one of the Macfarlane MSS. preserved
in the Advocates’ Library, entitled, “ A Geo­
graphical Description of Scotland,” (vol. i.
pp. 7, 20,) will be found a minute description
of the locality of this battle. See Illustra­
tions, A.

of the slain, and less able to resist
the increasing and reckless ferocity
of the masses that still yelled and
fought around him. It was impos­
sible that this should continue much
longer without making a fatal impres­
sion on the Scots; and the effects
of fatigue were soon seen. The Con­
stable of Dundee was slain ; and the
Highlanders, encouraged by his fall,
wielded their broadswords and Loch-
aber axes with murderous effect; seiz­
ing and stabbing the horses, and pull­
ing down their riders, whom they
despatched with their short daggers.
In this way were slain some of the
best soldiers of these northern dis­
tricts. Sir Robert Davidson, with the
greater part of the burgesses who
fought around him, were amongst the
number; and many of the families
lost not only their chief, but every
male in the house. Lesley of Balqu-
hain, a baron of ancient lineage, is
said to have fallen with six of his sons
slain beside him. The Sheriff of An­
gus, with his eldest son George Ogilvy,
Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum,2 Sir
Robert Maule, Sir Thomas Moray, Wil­
liam Abernethy, Alexander Straiton
of Lauriston, James Lovel, Alexander
Stirling, and above five hundred men-
at-arms, including the principal gentry
of Buchan, shared their fate;3 whilst
Mar himself, and a small number of
the survivors, still continued the
battle till nightfall. The slaughter
then ceased ; and it was found in the
morning that the island lord had re­
treated by Inverury and the hill of
Bennachie, checked and broken cer­
tainly by the desperate contest, but
neither conquered nor very effectually
repulsed. Mar, on the contrary, al­
though he passed the night on the
field, did so, not in the triumphant
assertion of victory, but from the

2  There is a tradition in the family of
Irvine of Drum, that the Laird of Maclean
was slain by Sir Alexander Irvine. Genealo­
gical Collections, MS. Adv. Library, Jac. V,
4, 16. vol. i. p. 180. Irvine was buried on the
field, where in ancient times a cairn marked
the place of his interment, which was long
known by the name of Drum’s Cairn. Ken-
nedy’s Annals of Aberdeen, vol. i. p. 61.

3 Fordun a Hearne, pp. 1175, 1176. Ex-
tracta ex Chronicis Scotiae, MS. fol. 257.

42                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

effects of wounds and exhaustion : the
best and bravest of his friends were
stretched around him ; and he found
himself totally unable to pursue the
retreat of the islesmen. Amongst
those of the Highlanders who fell were
the chiefs of Maclean and Macintosh,
with upwards of nine hundred men :
a small loss compared with that sus­
tained by the Lowlanders. The battle
was fought on St James’s Eve, the
24th of July ; and from the ferocity
with which it was contested, and the
dismal spectacle of civil war and blood­
shed exhibited to the country, it ap­
pears to have made a deep impression
on the national mind. It fixed itself
in the music and the poetry of Scot­
land. A march, called the Battle of
Harlaw, continued to be a popular air
down to the time of Drummond of
Hawthornden; and a spirited ballad
on the same event is still repeated in
our own age, describing the meeting
of the armies and the deaths of the
chiefs in no ignoble strain.1 Soon
after the battle a council-general was
held by the governor, in which a
statute was passed in favour of the
heirs of those who had died in defence
of the country, exempting them from
the feudal fines usually exacted before
they entered upon possession of their
estates, and permitting them, although
minors, immediately to serve heirs to
their lands. It will, perhaps, be recol­
lected that Bruce, on the eve of the
battle of Bannockburn, encouraged
his troops by a promise of the like

It was naturally suspected by Al­
bany that the chief of the Isles, who
was crippled rather than conquered,
had only fallen back to refresh his
men and procure reinforcements from
Ross-shire and the Hebrides ; and as
the result of the battle had shewn

1 Battle of Harlaw. Laing’s Early Metrical
Tales, p. 229.

2 History, supra, vol. i. p. 118. The fact
mentioned in the text is proved by a Retour
in the Cartulary of Aberdeen, fol. 121, in
favour of Andrew de Tulidef, whose father,
William de Tulidef, was slain at Harlaw. It
was pointed out to me by my friend Mr
Thomson, Deputy Clerk-Register, to whom
this volume is under repeated obligations.
See Illustrations, letter B.

that, however inferior in arms or in
discipline, the Highlanders could make
up for these disadvantages in numbers
and ferocity, a renewal of the invasion
was anticipated with alarm, and Albany
determined to prevent it by an un­
wonted display of military spirit and
activity. He collected an army in the
autumn ; marched in person to Ding-
wall, one of the principal castles of
the ancient Earls of Ross, situated at
the west end of the Cromarty Firth;
and having made himself master of it,
appointed a governor, and proceeded
to repossess himself of the whole
county of Ross. Donald, however,
fell back upon his island strengths,
and during the winter defied his ene­
mies ; but as soon as the summer
permitted the resumption of hostili­
ties, Albany again attacked him ; and,
after a war conducted with various
success, the island king was compelled
to lay down his assumed independ­
ence, and give up all claim to the earl­
dom of Ross; to consent to become a
vassal of the Scottish crown, and to
deliver hostages for his future good
behaviour. The treaty was concluded
at Polgilbe, or Polgillip, now Loch
Gilp, an arm of the sea running into
the district of Knapdale, in Argyle.3
This successful termination of a rebel­
lion which appeared so formidable in
its commencement was followed by a
truce with England, in which it was
declared that, from the river Spey in
Scotland to the mount of St Michael
in Cornwall, all hostilities between
the two countries should cease after
the 17th of May 1412, for the period
of six years.4

Albany now became impatient for
the return of his eldest son, who had
remained a captive in England since
the battle of Homildon Hill. As he felt
the approach of age, he was desirous
of making a quiet transfer of his power
in the government into the hands of
his own family, and various negotia­
tions regarding the hostages to be de­
livered for Murdoch, and the ransom
which was claimed, had already taken

3 Fordun a Hearne, p 1177. Macpherson’s
Geographical Illustrations, voce Polgylbe.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. viii. p. 737.

1413-15.]                          REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        43

place, but without success; whilst the
total indifference evinced by the gov­
ernor to the prolonged captivity of the
sovereign clearly shewed that if age
had impaired his strength, it had in
no degree awakened his remorse or
stifled his ambition. It was evident
that he intended his son to succeed
him in the high authority which he
had so long usurped; and Sir Walter
Stewart of Ralston and John de Leith
were engaged in a final treaty for the
return of the future governor, when
their proceedings were suddenly inter­
rupted by the death of Henry the
Fourth, and the accession of a new
sovereign to the English throne.1

The uncertain tenure by which the
crown had been held by Henry the
Fourth, and his consequent anxiety to
ward off all foreign attack, when his
attention was required in suppressing
conspiracy at home, had contributed
greatly to preserve the peace with
Scotland; and under his successor,
Henry the Fifth, the great designs of
this youthful conqueror against France,
and his subsequent invasion of that
kingdom, rendered it as materially his
interest as it had been that of his pre­
decessor to maintain pacific relations
with that country. In this view the
possession of the King of Scotland,
and the eldest son of the Regent, gave
him a hold over the politics of the
country, which he employed with
great skill and effect in weakening the
enmity and neutralising the hostile
schemes of those parties which were
opposed to his wishes, and inclined to
renew the war.

But it is necessary here for a mo­
ment to interrupt the narrative in
order to fix our attention upon a spec­
tacle which, amid the gloomy pictures
of foreign or domestic war, offers a
refreshing and pleasing resting-place
to the mind. This was the establish­
ment of the University of St Andrews
by Henry Wardlaw, the bishop of that
see, to whom belongs the unfading
honour of being the founder of the
first university in Scotland, the father
of the infant literature of his country.

1 Rymer, Fœdera vol. viii. pp. 708, 735,


Before this time the generosity of the
Lady Devorguilla, the wife of John
Baliol, had established Baliol College
in Oxford, in the end of the thirteenth
century; and we have seen the muni­
ficence of a Scottish prelate, the Bishop
of Moray, distinguishing itself by the
institution of the Scottish College of
Paris, in 1326; but it was reserved for
the enlightened spirit of Wardlaw to
render unnecessary the emigration of
our Scottish youth to these and other
foreign seminaries, by opening the
wells of learning at home, and, in ad­
dition to the various schools which
were connected with the monasteries,
by conferring upon his country the
distinction of a university, protected
by Papal sanction, and devoted to the
cultivation of what were then esteemed
the higher branches of science and
philosophy. The names of the first
professors in this early institution
have been preserved. The fourth
book of the Sentences of Peter Lom­
bard was explained by Laurence of
Lindores, a venerable master in the­
ology, whose zeal for the purity of the
Catholic faith had lately been dis­
played in the condemnation of John
Resby the Wickliffite at Perth. The
importance then attached to an edu­
cation in the canon law was shewn by
its being taught and expounded by
four different masters, who conducted
their pupils from its simplest elements
to its most profound reasonings. These
were Richard Cornel, archdeacon of
Lothian, John Litstar, canon of St
Andrews, John Shevez, official of St
Andrews, and William Stevens, after­
wards Bishop of Dumblane ; whilst in
philosophy and logic the lectures were
delivered by John Gill, William Fow-
lis, and William Crosier. These learned
persons commenced their prelections
in 1410, immediately after the Feast
of Pentecost, and continued their
labours for two years and a half. But
although a communication with Rome
had taken place, the establishment was
yet unsanctioned by that authority,
without which all such institutions
were then considered imperfect.2
At length, on the 3d of February
Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 445, 446.

44                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

1413, Henry Ogilvy, master of arts,
made his entry into the city, bearing
the Papal bulls, which endowed the
infant seminary with the high and
important privileges of a university;
and his arrival was welcomed by the
ringing of bells from the steeples, and
the tumultuous joy of all classes of the
inhabitants. On the following day,
being Sunday, a solemn convocation of
the clergy was held in the refectory,
and the Papal bulls having been read
in presence of the bishop, the chan­
cellor of the university, they proceeded
in procession to the high altar, where
Te Deum was sung by the whole as­
sembly—the bishops, priors, and other
dignitaries being arrayed in their
richest canonicals, whilst four hun­
dred clerks, besides novices and lay
brothers, prostrated themselves before
the altar, and an immense multitude
of spectators bent their knees in grati­
tude and adoration. High mass was
then celebrated, and when the service
was concluded the remainder of the
day was devoted to mirth and festivity.
In the evening bonfires in the streets,
peals of bells, and musical instruments,
processions of the clergy, and joyful
assemblies of the people, indulging in
the song, the dance, and the wine-cup,
succeeded to the graver ceremonies of
the morning; and the event was wel­
comed by a boisterous enthusiasm
more befitting the brilliant triumphs
of war than the quiet and noiseless
conquests of science and philosophy.

The first act of Henry the Fifth
which affected Scotland seemed to in­
dicate an extremity of suspicion, or a
promptitude of hostility, which were
equally alarming. His father died
on the 20th of March, and on the
succeeding day the king issued orders
that James, king of Scotland, and
Murdoch, earl of Fife, should be com­
mitted to the Tower.1 It would ap­
pear, however, by the result that this
was more a measure of customary
precaution, enforced upon all prisoners
upon the death of the sovereign to
whom their parole had been given,
than of any individual hostility. It
was believed that the prisoners might
1 Fœdera, vol. be. p. 2.

avail themselves of a notion that dur­
ing the interval between the death of
one king and the accession of another
they were not bound by their parole,
but free to escape; and this idea is
confirmed by the circumstance of their
being liberated from the Tower within
a short time after their commitment.

Henry’s great designs in France
rendered it, as we have already re­
marked, absolutely necessary for him
to preserve his pacific relations with
Scotland; and, under a wise and pa­
triotic governor, the interval of rest
which his reign afforded to that coun­
try might have been improved to the
furtherance of its best interests. But
Albany, had he even been willing, did
not dare to employ in this manner the
breathing time allowed him. As a usur­
per of the supreme power, he was con­
scious that he continued to hold it only
by the sufferance of the nobles; and in
return for their support it became
necessary for him to become blind to
their excesses, and to pass over their
repeated delinquencies. Dilapidation
of the lands and revenues of the crown,
invasions of the rights of private pro­
perty, frequent murders arising from
the habit of becoming the avengers of
their own quarrel, and a reckless sac­
rifice of the persons and liberties of
the lower classes in the community,
were crimes of perpetual recurrence,
which not only escaped with impunity,
but whose authors were often the very
dignitaries to whom the prosecution
and the punishment belonged; whilst
the conduct of the governor himself,
in his unremitting efforts for the ag­
grandisement of his own family, in­
creased the evil by the weight of his
example, and the pledge which it
seemed to furnish that no change for
the better would be speedily attempted.

During the few remaining years of
Albany’s administration, two objects
are seen to be constantly kept in view
—the restoration of his son, Murdoch
Stewart, and the retention of his
sovereign, James the First, in cap­
tivity ; and in both his intrigues were
successful. It was impossible for him,
indeed, so effectually to keep down the
hereditary animosity between the two

1415-16.]                          REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        45

nations as to prevent it from breaking
forth in Border inroads and insulated
acts of hostility, but a constant succes­
sion of short truces, and a determina­
tion to discourage every measure which
might have the effect of again plung­
ing the country into war, succeeded
in conciliating the English king, and
rendering him willing to agree to the
return of his son to Scotland. In
consequence of this, an exchange was
negotiated; young Henry Percy, the
son of the illustrious Hotspur, who
since the rebellion and death of his
grandfather, the Earl of Northumber­
land, had remained in Scotland, re­
turned to England, and was reinstated
in his honours, whilst Murdoch Stew­
art was finally liberated from his cap­
tivity, and restored to the desires
rather of his father than of his coun­
try. It was soon, however, discovered
that his character was of that unam­
bitious and feeble kind which unfitted
him for the purposes which had made
his return so anxiously expected by
the governor.

In his attempts to accomplish his
second object, that of detaining his
sovereign a prisoner in England, Al­
bany experienced more serious diffi­
culties. James’s character had now
begun to develop those great qualities
which during his future reign so highly
distinguished him. The constant in­
tercourse with the court of Henry the
Fourth which was permitted to Scot­
tish subjects had enabled many of
his nobility to become acquainted
with their youthful sovereign; these
persons he found means to attach to
his interest, and upon their return
they employed their utmost efforts to
traverse the designs of Albany. Ow­
ing to their influence, a negotiation for
his return to his dominions took place
in 1416, by the terms of which the
royal captive was to be permitted to
remain for a certain time in Scotland,
upon his leaving in the hands of the
English king a sufficient number of
hostages to secure the payment of a
hundred thousand marks in the event
of his not delivering himself within
the stipulated period.1 To the Bishop

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ix. pp. 341. 417.

of Durham, and the Earls of Nor­
thumberland and Westmoreland, was
intrusted the task of receiving the oaths
of the Scottish king and his hostages,
whilst the treaty had been so far suc­
cessful that letters of safe-conduct were
granted to the Bishops of St Andrews
and Glasgow, the Earls of Crawford,
Douglas, and Mar, Murdoch Stewart,
Albany’s eldest son, and John, his
brother, earl of Buchan, to whom the
final adjustment was to be committed.
But, from what cause cannot now be
discovered, the treaty, when on the
eve of being concluded, mysteriously
broke off. Whether it was owing to
the intrigues of the governor, or the
jealousy of Scottish influence in the
affairs of France, Henry became sud­
denly cool, and interrupted the nego­
tiation, so that the unfortunate prince
saw himself at one moment on the eve
of regaining his liberty, and being re­
stored to the kingdom which was his
rightful inheritance, and the next re­
manded back to his captivity, and con­
demned to the misery of that pro­
tracted hope which sickens the heart.
Are we to wonder that his resentment
against the man whose base and selfish
intrigues he well knew to be the cause
of the failure of the negotiation should
have assumed a strength and a violence
which, at a future period, involved not
only himself but his whole race in
utter ruin ?

In the meantime, however, the
power of the state was fixed too firmly
in the hands of Albany for the friends
of the young king to defeat his schemes;
and as the governor began to suspect
that a continuance of peace encouraged
intrigues for the restoration of James
and his own deposition, he determined
as soon as the last short truce had ex­
pired not only to invade England, but
to send over an auxiliary force to the
assistance of France. The object of
all this was apparent—a war gave im­
mediate employment to the restless
spirits of the nobility, it at once in­
terrupted their intercourse with their
captive sovereign, it necessarily in­
censed the English monarch, put an
end to that kind and conciliatory spirit
with which he had conducted his cor­

4G                                HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. I.

respondence with that country, and
rendered it almost certain that he
would retain the royal captive in his

The baseness of Albany in pursuing
this line of policy cannot be too se­
verely condemned. If ever there was
a period in which Scotland could have
enjoyed peace with security and with
advantage, it was the present. The
principles upon which Henry the Fifth
acted with regard to that country were
those of perfect honour and good faith.
All those ideas of conquest, so long
and so fondly cherished by the Eng­
lish kings since the days of Edward
the First, had been renounced, and
the integrity and independence of the
kingdom completely acknowledged.
In this respect, the reigns of Edward
the Third and Henry the Fifth offer
as striking a contrast in the conduct
pursued by these two monarchs to­
wards Scotland as they present a
brilliant parallel in their ambitious
attacks upon France. The grasping
and gigantic ambition of Edward the
Third was determined to achieve the
conquest of both countries, and it
must be allowed that he pursued his
object with great political ability;
but his failure in this scheme, and the
unsuccessful result of the last inva­
sion by Henry the Fourth, appear to
have convinced his warlike son that
two such mighty designs were incom­
patible, and that one of the first steps
towards ultimate success in his French
war must be the complete restoration
of amity with Scotland.

It was now, therefore, in the power
of that country to enjoy a permanent
peace, established on the basis of in­
dependence. The King of England
was ready to deliver to her a youthful
sovereign of great talents and energy,
who, although a captive, had been
educated at his father’s court with a
liberality which had opened to him
every avenue to knowledge ; and,
under such a reign, what might not
have been anticipated, in the revival
of good order, the due execution of
the laws, the progress of commerce
and manufactures, the softening the
harshness and tyranny of the feudal

aristocracy, and the gradual ameliora­
tion of the middle and lower classes
of the community ? Yet Albany hesi­
tated not to sacrifice all this fair
prospect of national felicity to his
individual ambition; and once more
plunged the country into war, for the
single purpose of detaining his sove­
reign in captivity, and transferring the
power which he had so long usurped
into the hands of his son. For a
while he succeeded; but he little an­
ticipated the dreadful reckoning to
which those who now shared his guilt
and his triumph were so soon to be

His talents for war, however, were
of a very inferior description. An
expedition which he had meditated
against England in a former year, in
which it was commonly reported that
he was to besiege Berwick at the head
of an army of sixty thousand men,
and that the cannon and warlike ma
chines to be employed in the enter­
prise had already been shipped on
board the fleet, concluded in nothing,
for neither army nor artillery ever
appeared before Berwick.1 Nor was
his second invasion much more suc-
cessful. He laid siege indeed to Rox­
burgh, and the miners had commenced
their operations, when news was brought
to his camp that the Duke of Bed­
ford, to whom Henry, during his ab­
sence in France, had intrusted the
protection of the Borders, was advanc­
ing, by rapid marches, at the head of
an army of forty thousand men. Al­
bany had foolishly imagined that the
whole disposable force of England
was then in France with the king;
but, on discovering his mistake, he
precipitately abandoned the siege ;
and, without having achieved anything
in the least degree correspondent to
his great preparations, retreated into
Scotland. The invasion, from its in­
glorious progress and termination, was
long remembered in the country by
the contemptuous appellation of “ The
Foul Raid.” 2

1 Walsingham, p. 399. Fordun a Goodal,
vol. ii. p. 449.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ix. p. 307. A.D.

1419-23.]                           REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                        47

But if the war was carried on in
this feeble manner by Albany, the
English cannot be accused of any such
inglorious inactivity. On the contrary,
Henry had left behind him, as guar­
dians of the marches, some of his
bravest and most experienced leaders;
and amongst these, Sir Robert Umfra-
ville, governor of Berwick, eager to
emulate the exploits of his country­
men in France, invaded Scotland by
the east marches, and committed dread­
ful havoc and devastation. The whole
country was reduced into one wide
field of desolation, and the rich Border
towns of Hawick, Selkirk, Jedburgh,
Lauder, Dunbar, with the numerous
villages, hamlets, and granges of Te-
viotdale and Liddesdale, were burnt
to the ground; whilst the solitary
success upon the part of Scotland
seems to have been the storming of
Wark castle by William Haliburton,
which, however, was soon afterwards
retaken by Sir Robert Ogle, and the
whole of the Scottish garrison put to
the sword.1

It was not long after this that the
Dauphin despatched the Duke of Ven-
dome on an embassy to the Scottish
court. Its object was to request as­
sistance against the English; and a
parliament having been immediately
assembled, it was determined by the
governor to send into France a large
auxiliary force, under the conduct of
his second son, Sir John Stewart, Earl
of Buchan, and the Earl of Wigtown.
The vessels for the transport of these
troops were to be furnished by France;
and the King of Castile, with the In­
fanta of Arragon, who were in alliance
with the Scots, had promised to fit
out forty ships for the emergency.
Alarmed at a resolution which might
produce so serious a diversion in fa­
vour of his enemies, Henry instantly
despatched his letters to his brother
the Duke of Bedford, on whom, dur­
ing his absence in France, he had
devolved the government, directing
him to seize and press into his service,
in the various seaports where they
could be found, a sufficient number

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 458. Har-
dyng’s Chronicle, p. 382.

of ships and galleons, to be armed and
victualled with all possible despatch,
for the purpose of intercepting the
Scottish auxiliaries; but the command
was either disregarded, or came too late,
for an army of seven thousand troops,
amongst whom were the flower of the
Scottish nobles, were safely landed in
France, and were destined to distin­
guish themselves in a signal manner in
their operations against the English.2
For a year, however, they lay in­
active, and during this period impor­
tant changes took place in Scotland.
Albany the governor, at the advanced
age of eighty, died at the palace of
Stirling, on the 3d of September 1419.
If we include the period of his manage­
ment of the state under his father
and brother, he may be said to have
governed Scotland for thirty-four years;
but his actual regency, from the death
of Robert the Third to his own de­
cease, did not exceed fourteen years.3
So effectually had he secured the in­
terest of the nobility, that his son
succeeded, without opposition, to the
power which his father had so ably
and artfully consolidated. No meet­
ing of the parliament, or of any coun­
cil of the nobility, appears to have
taken place; and the silent assump­
tion of the authority and name of
governor by Duke Murdoch, during
the continued captivity of the king,
was nothing else than a bold act of
treason.4 It was soon apparent, how­
ever, that the dangerous elevation was
rather thrust upon him by his party
than chosen by himself; and that he
possessed neither the talents nor the
inclination to carry on that system of
usurpation of which his father had
raised the superstructure, and no doubt
flattered himself that he had secured
the foundations. Within four years,
under the weak, gentle, and vacillat­
ing administration of Murdoch, it

2  Extracta ex Chronicis Scotiæ, MS. p.
262. See Illustrations, C.

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol.ii. p. 466. Extracta
ex Chronicis Scotiæ, p. 263, MS.

4  In Macfarlane’s Genealogical Collections,
MS. vol. i. p. 3, is a precept of sasine by
Duke Murdoch to the Laird of Balfour, in
which he styles himself “Regni Scotiae

48                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

crumbled away, and gave place to a
state of rude and unlicensed anarchy.
The nobility, although caressed and
flattered by Albany, who, in his de­
sire to attain popularity, had divided
amongst them the spoils of the crown
lands, and permitted an unsafe in­
crease of individual power, had yet
been partially kept within the limits
of authority; and if the laws were not
conscientiously administered, they were
not openly outraged. But under the
son all became, within a short time,
one scene of rude, unlicensed anarchy;
and it was evident that, to save the
country from ruin, some change must
speedily take place. In the mean­
time, Henry the Fifth, alarmed at the
success of the strong auxiliary force
which the Earls of Buchan and Wig­
town had conducted to France, in­
sisted upon his royal captive, James
the First, accompanying him in his
expedition to renew the war in that
country, having first entered into an
engagement with that prince, by which
he promised to permit him to revisit
his dominions for a stipulated period,
and under the condition of his deliver­
ing into the hands of England a suffi­
cient number of hostages for his re­

Archibald, earl of Douglas, the most
powerful noble in Scotland, appears
at this time to have deeply interested
himself in the return of James to his
dominions. He engaged to assist Henry
in his French war with a body of two
hundred knights and squires, and two
hundred mounted archers; and that
prince probably expected that the Scot­
tish auxiliaries would be induced to
detach themselves from the service of
the Dauphin, rather than engage in
hostilities with their rightful sovereign.
According to the English historians,
the Scottish king, when requested by
Henry to command his subjects on
their allegiance to leave the service of
France, replied, that so long as he
remained a prisoner, it neither became
him to issue, nor them to obey, such
an order. But he added, that to win
renown as a private knight, and to be
instructed in the art of war under so
Rymer Foedera, vol. x. pp. 19,125.

great a captain, was an opportunity he
willingly embraced. Of the particu­
lars of his life at this period no ac­
count remains, but there is ample
evidence that he was in constant com­
munication with Scotland. His private
chaplain, William de Mirton, Alex­
ander de Seton, lord of Gordon, Wil­
liam Fowlis, secretary to the Earl of
Douglas, and in all probability many
others, were engaged in secret missions,
which informed him of the state of
parties in his dominions, of the weak
administration of Murdoch, the un­
licensed anarchy which prevailed, and
the earnest wishes of all good men for
the return of their sovereign.2

It was at this crisis that Henry the
Fifth closed his heroic career, happier
than Edward the Third in his being
spared the mortification of outliving
those brilliant conquests, which in the
progress of years were destined to be
as effectually torn from the hand of
England. The Duke of Bedford, who
succeeded to the government of France,
and the Duke of Gloucester, who as­
sumed the office of Regent in England
during the minority of Henry the
Sixth, appear to have been animated
with favourable dispositions towards
the Scottish king; and within a few
months after the accession of the infant
sovereign, a negotiation took place, in
which Alexander Seton, lord of Gordon,
Thomas de Mirton, the chaplain of the
Scottish monarch, Sir John Forester,
Sir Walter Ogilvy, John de Leith, and
William Fowlis, had a meeting with
the privy council of England upon the
subject of the king’s return to his do­
minions.3 It was determined that on
the 12th of May 1423, James should
be permitted to meet at Pontefract
with the Scottish ambassadors, who
should be empowered to enter into a
negotiation upon this subject with
the ambassadors of the King of Eng­
land; and such a conference having
accordingly taken place, the final treaty
was concluded at London between
the Bishop of Glasgow, chancellor of
Scotland, the Abbot of Balmerinoch,

2 Rymer, Foedera, vol. x. pp. 166, 227.
Ibid. pp. 174, 296.
Ibid. vol. x. p. 266.

1423-4.]                             REGENCY OF ALBANY.                                       49

George Borthwick, archdeacon of Glas­
gow, and Patrick Howston, licentiate
in the laws, ambassadors appointed by
the Scottish governor;1 and the Bishop
of Worcester and Stafford, the treasurer
of England, William Alnwick, keeper
of the privy seal, the Lord Cromwell,
Sir John Pelham, Robert Waterton,
Esq., and John Stokes, doctor of laws,
commissaries appointed by the English

It will be recollected that James had
been seized by the English during the
time of truce, and to have insisted on
a ransom for a prince, who by the law
of nations was not properly a captive,
would have been gross injustice. The
English commissioners accordingly de­
clared that they should only demand
the payment of the expenses of the
King of Scotland which had been in­
curred during the long period of his
residence in England; and these they
fixed at the sum of forty thousand
pounds of good and lawful money of
England, to be paid in yearly sums of
ten thousand marks, till the whole
was discharged. It was determined
that the king should not only promise,
upon his royal word and oath, to de­
fray this sum, but that certain hostages
from the noblest families in the country
should be delivered into the hands of
the English king, to remain in Eng­
land at their own expense, till the
whole sum was paid; and that, for
further security, a separate obligation
should be given by the four principal
towns of Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee,
and Aberdeen,2 by which they pro­
mised to defray the sum to the Eng­
lish treasury, in the event of its not
being paid by their own sovereign.

In addition to this, the ambassadors
of both countries were empowered to
treat of a marriage between the Scot­
tish king and some English lady of
noble birth; and as James, during his
captivity, had fallen in love with the
daughter of the Earl of Somerset, a
lady of royal descent by both parents,
and of great beauty and accomplish-

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. x. p. 298. The com­
mission by the governor is dated Inverkeith-
ing, August 19, 1423.

2 Ibid. vol. x. p. 303.

ments, this part of their negotiation was
without difficulty concluded. Johanna
Beaufort had already given her heart
to the royal captive; and the marriage
was concluded with the customary
feudal pomp in the church of St Mary
Overy, in Southwark,3 after which the
feast was held in the palace of her
uncle, the famous Cardinal Beaufort,
a man of vast wealth and equal ambi­
tion.4 Next day, James received as
the dower of his wife a relaxation from
the payment of ten thousand marks of
the original sum which had been agreed
on.5 A truce of seven years was con­
cluded ; and, accompanied by his queen
and a brilliant cortege of the English
nobility, to whom he had endeared
himself by his graceful manners and
deportment, he set out for his own
dominions. At Durham, he was met
by the Earls of Lennox, Wigtown,
Moray, Crawford, March, Orkney, An­
gus, and Strathern, with the Constable
and Marshal of Scotland, and a train of
the highest barons and gentry of his
dominions, amounting altogether to
about three hundred persons; from
whom a band of twenty-eight hostages
were selected, comprehending some of
the most noble and opulent persons in
the country. In the schedule contain-
ing their names, the annual rent of
their estates is also set down, which
renders it a document of much interest,
as illustrating the wealth and compara­
tive influence of the Scottish aristo­

From Durham, James, still sur­
rounded by his nobles, and attended
by the Earl of Northumberland, the
sheriff of that county, and an escort
under Sir Robert Umfraville, Sir
William Heron, and Sir Robert Ogle,
proceeded in his joyful progress, and
halted, on reaching the Abbey of Mel-
rose, for the purpose of fulfilling the
obligation which bound him to con­
firm the treaty by his royal oath, upon

3 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. x. pp. 321, 323.

4 Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments, vol. ii. p.
127, plate 41, p. 148. Dugdale’s Baronage,
vol. ii. p. 122.

5 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. x. p. 323, dated 12th
Feb. 1424.

6 Ibid. vol. x. pp. 307, 309. See Illustra
tions, D.


50                                  HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                     [Chap. II.

the Holy Gospels, within four days
after his entry into his own do­

He was received by all classes of
his subjects with expressions of tumul­

tuous joy and undissembled affection;
and the regent hastened to resign the
government into the hands of a prince
who was in every way worthy of the

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