Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



Malcolm had no children, so he was succeeded by
his brother William. William was by no means meek
and gentle like his brother, The Maiden, and he was
called The Lion. He was very sorry that Malcolm had
given up Northumberland to the King of England, and
he tried to get it back again. But Henry was not a man
to let go anything of which he had once gained possession,
so William tried in vain. But he could not forget that
the Kings of Scotland had once ruled Northumberland,
and when he had been on the throne about nine years he
resolved to fight for it.

He gathered a great army and marched into England.
He took several towns and castles in Northumberland.
Then at Ainwick he rested, waiting for the coming of
the English army.

One morning a thick mist covered all the country.
Through the mist a company of English soldiers came
marching from the south. They had lost their way and
knew not where they were. Fearing lest they should be
surprised by the Scots, some of them wished to turn back.
But one bold knight named Bernard de Baliol cried out,
‘ You may go back, but I will go on, even if I go alone,
and thus preserve mine honour.’ So, heartened by his
brave words, the soldiers pushed on as best they might.

Suddenly the mist lightened and the English saw the


WILLIAM I., THE LION                   79

walls of a castle not far off. Upon a plain, near the castle,
about sixty knights were holding a tournament.

A tournament was a kind of mock battle, and in
those days was one of the chief amusements of lords and
knights. It generally took place on a large plain, round
which people stood and sat looking on. In the place
of honour sat fair ladies and great lords watching the
knights. The weapons used in a tournament were, as
a rule, blunted, but in spite of this those who took part
in it were often wounded, and sometimes killed.

The knights wore in their helmets the colours of
their ladies, and it was thought that a knight could not
honour his lady more highly than by being victor in a
tournament. So every true knight longed to be victor,
and to win the prize of bay leaves or flowers, which was
placed on his head by the fairest lady there.

These knights who were holding the tournament in the
mist were King William and his lords. They were thus
playing at war while waiting for the real enemy to appear.
At first, when they saw the English they thought that it
was a party of their own soldiers. But soon they found
out their mistake.

To turn and flee to the castle of Ainwick was the only
safe thing to do. But that, bold King William would
not do. ‘Now we shall see who among us are true
knights,’ he cried, and setting spurs to his horse he
charged the enemy.

But sixty men could do little against six hundred.
All that brave and desperate men could do, they did.
But it was in vain. Many were slain, many more were
wounded. King William fought more bravely than any,
but at last his horse was killed. He fell to the ground,
and was taken prisoner by the English.

The English were so pleased at having taken such an



important prisoner that they did not wait to fight any
more. They turned southward at once, carrying with
them the King of Scots.

The English did not treat King William kindly. They
set him upon a horse and tied his legs together under it,
just as if he had been a common thief or murderer. In
this manner he was brought before King Henry.

King Henry did not treat his prisoner kindly either.
He put heavy chains upon his hands and feet, and threw
him into a dark dungeon. Then, thinking that he was
not safe enough in England, Henry sailed over to France,
where he shut William up in a castle.

There, William the Lion was kept, until he should pro­
mise to acknowledge Henry as over­lord. But William,
chained though he was, was still the Lion, and he would
not agree. So Henry sent messengers to the Scottish
Parliament, and they, in order to free their King, agreed
that the King of Scotland should acknowledge the King
of England as over­lord.

William was then freed from prison, and allowed to go
back to his own land.

For fifteen years this wicked bargain lasted. And the
King of Scotland did homage to the King of England
Then Henry II. died, and his son Richard of the Lion
Heart, set William the Lion free from his promise.

Richard wanted to go to join the wars of the Cross,
or Crusades as they were called. They were so called
because the people who took part in them were fighting
for the land where Christ died upon the Cross. This
land, which is called Palestine, or the Holy Land, was
in the hands of the Saracens. These Saracens did not
believe in Christ, and they were cruel to the Christians
who travelled to Palestine to visit the Holy Sepulchre.
So Christian people of all lands banded together to

WILLIAM I., THE LION                  81

fight these Saracens and drive them out of the Holy

Richard of the Lion Heart was eager to join one of
these Crusades, but he needed money to carry himself
and his soldiers over the sea to Palestine. William gave
Richard money, and in return Richard gave Scotland her
freedom once more. He wrote a letter, or charter, saying
that Scotland was a free country, as it had ever been,
and that the King of Scotland was no longer the vassal
of the King of England, and need not do homage to him.
This was in 1189 a.d.

This action of King Richard‘s did a great deal towards
wiping out the bitter feeling of hate between the English
and Scots, and for some years there was not only peace
but even friendship between the two lands.

William the Lion lived to be a very old man, and
died in 1214 a.d., having reigned fifty years all but a
few days.


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