DAVID II.— THE BATTLE OF NEVILLE’S CROSS
Slowly but surely, and with much fighting, the Scots
began to win their country again. Robert the High
Steward, or Robert Stewart as he came to be called from
the name of his office, was now Regent He at length
decided that the King, who had been living in France for
nine years, might safely return.
David was by this time eighteen years old, and as
soon as he came back Robert Stewart gave up his office
of Regent. But the King was too young and too ignorant
to be able to rule well, and he was jealous of Robert
Stewart So there was no love between the King and
the man who had fought for and ruled his kingdom while
he had been away.
The war with England still went on. In those days
there was no regular army as there is now. In time of
war each man left his work, put on his armour, took his
weapons, and went to fight for his master. The war now
had lasted so long that the fields had neither been ploughed
nor sown ; the country was wasted and barren ; there was
no corn with which to make bread, and the people starved.
After famine came a horrible disease called the Black
Death, from which hundreds and hundreds died, and the
whole land was filled with misery and mourning.
The Scots, having driven the English out of Scotland,
now often marched into England to fight there. They
194 SCOTLAND’S STORY
plundered the rich fields and brought back food for the
starving people. Sometimes these fights were little more
than skirmishes, or border raids as they were called ;
sometimes they were great battles. One of these battles
was called Neville’s Cross.
King Edward of England was fighting with France
as well as with Scotland. The French and the Scots
were friends, so while Edward was in France the French
King persuaded the Scots to invade England. He hoped
that this would help the French, for Edward would be
obliged, he thought, to send home some of his soldiers to
protect England. The Scots too thought that it would
be a good time to invade England, for the King and all
his best fighting men and greatest generals were far away.
‘None but cowardly clerks and mean mechanics stand
between us and a march to London,’ they said. But they
were mistaken, for there were still many brave fighters
left in England, and an army of thirty thousand marched
to meet the Scots.
David was brave, but he was not a great soldier as his
father had been, nor would he listen to the advice of his
generals. So when the two armies met at Neville’s Cross
the Scots were defeated.
For three hours the battle raged with terrible slaughter.
The nobles at last formed a ring round their young King,
and fell one by one, fighting to protect him. Twice he
was wounded, but still he fought bravely, till at last an
English knight succeeded in disarming him, and he was
Many Scottish nobles lay dead upon the field ; many
more, like their King, were taken prisoner. In triumph
they were led through London. The King, clad in beauti
ful robes and mounted upon a splendid black horse, was
followed by the mayor and his counsellors and by a great
THE BATTLE OF NEVILLES CROSS 195
procession of people all dressed in their holiday clothes.
Everywhere they passed, the streets were gaily decorated
and filled with gaping crowds come to see the sight
Then David and his nobles were led back to the Tower
of London and there kept fast prisoner.
After the battle of Neville’s Cross, Edward Baliol
once more came back to Scotland and pretended to be
King. But the Scots would neither submit to the rule
of Edward Baliol nor of Edward of England, and they
again chose Robert the High Steward as Regent.
Then Baliol, seeing himself powerless, knelt to King
Edward, placing his crown at his feet, and giving him a
handful of Scottish soil, as a token that he yielded to
the English King all right over Scotland. This ceremony
was a mere empty show, for Baliol could not give away
what he did not possess. Edward, however, in return for
this homage, granted Baliol a large sum of money, and
Baliol, who was already an old man, went away quietly
and was heard of no more.
Edward now set David free, on condition that he
should own the King of England as his overlord. But
the Scottish people would not agree to be subject to
Edward, so David had to return again to prison.
Edward then gathered a great army and marched once
more into Scotland, carrying before him among his other
banners and pennons the Scottish royal standard. He
pretended no longer that he was fighting for Baliol.
Henceforward he fought for himself. But wherever he
went he found a deserted country. He reached Edin
burgh without fighting any great battle, but having
wrecked every town and village on his way. So fearful
was the havoc he made that this raid was known for long
after as the Burned Candlemas.
By the time Edward reached Edinburgh his army was
196 SCOTLAND’S STORY
starving, even bread was scarce. At last, seeing nothing
but famine before him, he gave the order to march back
to England. This was the fifth time that Edward iii.
had invaded Scotland. Every time he had said that he
would conquer the country. Every time he had failed.
At last a truce was made. The Scots agreed to pay a
large sum of money to Edward, and their King was set
free. It was such a large sum that it could not all be
paid at once, and Scotland, already made poor by so
many wars, was made poorer still. But the people were
so anxious to have their King again that they paid the
When at last the King returned, there was great re
joicing. Wherever he went the people crowded around
him cheering. But the King, instead of being pleased
with this show of love, was angry. One day on his way
to Parliament, when the people were pressing round him
as usual, David seized a mace from one of his servants.
With this he gave the man nearest to him a blow on the
head and threatened to knock down any other who came
nigh him. After that the national joy at the return of
their King was not so great.
It was soon seen that David did not care for his people
at all. He was selfish, and fond of pleasure and greedy
of money. When he died no one was sorry. He had
reigned forty-two years, nine of which he had spent as an
exile in France, eleven as a prisoner in England.
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