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



Alexander ii. was only seventeen years old when his
father William the Lion died. But he was crowned at
once, and young though he was, he proved to be a good
and wise King.

During this reign the quarrelling over the border lands
between England and Scotland still went on. Alexander
was very anxious to recover his power over Northumbria,
and soon after he came to the throne he marched into
England to help the barons who were fighting against
their own King John.

John was very angry when he heard that the King
of Scotland was helping his rebellious barons, and he
marched northward at the head of a wild and terrible
army. The names of some of the leaders of this army
show what fierce men they were. They were called
Buch the Murderer, Godeschal the Iron-hearted, Manleon
the Bloody.

These cruel warriors marched through all the country,
killing people, burning houses, and laying waste the land.
Every morning they set fire to the town in which they
had spent the night, King John himself showing the
example and setting light, with his own hand, to the house
in which he had slept.

This terrible host came to within a few miles of

Edinburgh, John vowing that he would ‘ unearth the



young fox, as he called King Alexander. But there he
found the Scottish army ready to fight him. John dared
not fight, for his soldiers were almost starving. All the
country round was a desert In it John could find no
food for his army, so he turned and went home again.

Then in revenge Alexander marched once more into
England, and not until John died, and his son ruled instead,
was there peace between the two countries.

Alexander then married the sister of the new English
King, and the peace was so secure for a time, that once,
when the EngUsh King had to go to France, he asked
Alexander to take care of the north of England, while he
was gone. And Alexander like a true knight, accepted
the trust, and kept faith with the English King.

Having made peace with England, Alexander had
time to look after his own country and people. This
was no easy task. The people were wild and passionate,
and so fiercely did they quarrel among themselves that at
times they were in danger of dragging the whole country
into war.

Once a tournament took place near a town called
Haddington. Knights came from all sides to take part in
it. Among them was a great and powerful lord called
Walter Bisset. Through all Scotland he was known to
be a skilful fighter. He rode proudly into the lists, his
armour gleaming and his helmet plumes waving in the
breeze. He was sure of winning the prize.

But there was there a young lord called the Earl of
Athole. He hated Walter Bisset, and he had made up
his mind to conquer him. So when the heralds sounded
the trumpets, as a sign for the tournament to begin, the
Earl, singling out Walter Bisset, lowered his lance and
rushed upon him with all his might. But Walter Bisset
was a strong man and knew well how to use his weapons.



He sat firmly upon his horse, returning blow for blow.
The fight grew fierce, their lances were shivered to atoms,
their swords flashed and rang. Then suddenly putting
out all his strength the Earl dealt a mighty blow. In
a moment Walter lay upon the ground, and his horse
galloped riderless away.

Walter rose unhurt, but with anger in his heart, and
swearing vengeance upon the Earl, he sullenly left the lists.

A few days later the young Earl was killed, and his
house was set on fire and burned to the ground.

As soon as the Earl‘s friends heard of what had
happened, they made sure that it was Walter Bisset who
had done the deed. So he was seized and brought before
the King. In vain Walter tried to clear himself. No
one would believe him. He was condemned, as a punish­
ment for his wickedness, to have all his land taken from
him. He was also ordered to go upon a pilgrimage to
the Holy Land, there to remain for the rest of his life,
praying for the soul of the murdered EarL

But instead of going to the Holy Land, Walter went
to the court of the King of England. He told the King
that he was innocent, and he complained that the King of
Scotland had no right to punish him, even had he been
guilty, without leave from his over-lord the King of

Of course the King of England was not the King of
Scotland’s over­lord, but the King of England was only
too glad to make believe once more that he was. So he
sent messengers to Alexander asking how he dared act in
so great a matter without leave.

‘ Tell your master,’ replied Alexander proudly, ‘ that I
never have held, nor never will hold, the smallest part of
my kingdom of Scotland as vassal of the King of England
I owe no obedience to him.’


When Henry received this answer he resolved to make
war on Scotland. He gathered a great army ; Alexander
also gathered an army, and they marched to meet each

But there was no fighting. Even in England many
people loved Alexander. The English nobles did not
wish to fight against him, and at the last moment peace
was arranged. This peace lasted until the death of
Alexander in 1249 a.d.

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