ROBERT III.—THE STORY OF THE DUKE OF ROTHESAY
The Duke of Rothesay, although he was wild and wicked,
was handsome and had pleasant manners, and the people
loved him. He had many friends and Albany had few,
and Parliament decided that as the King was ill, and
could not himself rule, his son, the Duke, should be
Albany had always hated Rothesay ; now that he was
obliged to yield the power to him, he hated him more
Soon after this the truce with England came to an
end, and the Scottish Borderers, who had been waiting
eagerly for that time to come, once more broke into
England and laid the country waste. The English
Borderers too were not slow to fight, and soon the
terrible wars were raging as fiercely as before.
The King of England, who was now called Henry,
remembering the old claim of the English Kings to be
overlords of Scotland, determined to conquer the country.
He sent a letter to King Robert, telling him that he
meant to march to Edinburgh, there to receive his
King Robert took no notice of this letter, but treated
it with silent scorn. Then Henry, gathering a great
army, marched into Scotland. He marched right on to
Edinburgh. There Rothesay, who commanded the castle,
sent a fiery letter to King Henry. In it he told Henry
that he had only come into Scotland for love of plunder,
and dared him to settle the quarrel by a tournament
between an equal number of knights from either side.
To this Henry would not listen, and he began to besiege
Albany had meanwhile gathered an army, and he
now came marching toward Edinburgh. But instead of
helping his nephew, he encamped a little way off and did
nothing. This made the people very angry, for they
believed that Albany wanted King Henry to defeat the
Duke of Rothesay, and either to kill or take him prisoner.
Winter was coming on. The English had eaten
up all the food they had, and they began to starve.
Many of them, too, had died of sickness and cold. And
last of all Henry heard that the Welsh were rebelling, so
he gave up the siege, and marched back again to England.
This is the last time that an English King ever
brought an army into Scotland. When armies came again,
they were not led by the King, but by one of his generals.
Unlike all the other armies which had come before, this
one did little damage. For Henry did not allow his
troops to burn and ravage as they went, but made them
march peacefully and quietly through the land.
While his country was in danger, the Duke of
Rothesay had fought well, and kept the castle of Edin
burgh from falling into the hands of the King of England,
but now that the danger was over, he again took to his
former wild ways. Albany, who hated his nephew, was
not slow to tell the King all the evil things which he
heard about him. At last, the poor old King, hurt to the
heart that his son should do such things, ordered Albany
to imprison him until he should promise to behave better.
Then Albany was very glad. For many years he had
STORY OF THE DUKE OF ROTHESAY 218
longed for the death of Rothesay. Now he felt that he
could safely kill him. In those days, it was easy for
prisoners to be killed, for the dungeons were dark and
hideous, and it was not wonderful that few should come
out alive. And Albany had the King‘s orders, signed
and sealed by the King‘s ring, telling him to put the
Prince in prison.
So one day as the Duke rode towards St. Andrews,
attended only by a few followers, he was suddenly seized
by Albany and his friends. Rothesay was first taken to
the castle of St. Andrews, but that was not secret or safe
enough to please his wicked uncle. So in a storm of
wind and rain, mounted upon a cart horse, and with only
a rough peasant‘s cloak thrown over his beautifiul clothes,
he was rudely hurried away to the castle of Falkland,
which belonged to Albany. There he was thrown into a
dark and gloomy dungeon under the castle walls.
He had no light except what came through the tiny
barred window, just above the ground. He was given no
food, no drink. His cruel uncle meant him to die by one
of the most terrible of deaths. He meant him to starve.
In this dungeon he remained day and night without
food, or drink, or light, until he cried aloud in pain.
The daughter of the Governor of the castle heard his
cries, and she came to the window. She knew that
dreadful things often happened in these dark dungeons,
and when the poor Prince, dragging himself to the
window, told her that he was being starved to death, she
was full of pity. She hurried away, and returned as
quickly as she could, with some thin oatcakes hidden in
the white muslin veil which it was then the fashion for
ladies to wear on their heads. It was all that she dared
to bring, for fear of the soldiers who watched. Day after
day she went, pretending to walk in the garden, and
214 SCOTLAND’S STORY
always she stopped at the little window, and let the oat
cakes drop through the bars. Another woman gave the
Duke milk, but all that those two kind women could
bring him was not enough to satisfy his terrible hunger,
and soon even that was stopped, for the cruel jailors
began to wonder why the Duke did not die. They
watched more carefully than before, and when they
found out what the Governor’s daughter and her servant
were doing, they put them to death. The poor Duke
was now left without a single friend, and one morning
his groans ceased and there was silence in the little cell.
He was dead.
Then the Duke of Albany caused it to be made
known that the Prince had become ill, and had died in
prison. Every one believed that he had been murdered
by his uncle, but no one dared to tell this to the poor
old King, who wept and mourned greatly for the loss of
his son, whom he had loved very dearly, in spite of his
wildness and wickedness.
Albany now once more became Regent, for although
King Robert had another son called James, he was only
a little boy, too young to rule. But King Robert began
to be afraid of his brother. He began to feel sure that he
had murdered Rothesay. So to keep his son James safe,
he made up his mind to send him to France, pretending
that he thought he would receive a better education there
than in Scotland.
A ship was fitted out, and, accompanied by several
nobles, the young Prince James, who was about nine
years old, set out for France.
The weather was fine, and they sailed along without
fear, for there was a truce between England and Scotland
at that time. But in spite of the truce, they had not gone
far when an armed English ship came sailing towards
STORY OF THE DUKE OF ROTHESAY 215
them and attacked them. The Prince was taken prisoner
and carried away to the King of England.
When they were led before him, the nobles fell upon
their knees, and begged him to set the Prince free, re
minding him that the two kingdoms were at peace, and
that to take the Prince prisoner was an act of war. But
King Henry only laughed at all they said. ‘ If King
Robert had been truly friendly,’ he said, ‘ he would have
sent his son to England to be taught. For I know
French indifferently well, and nowhere could he find a
So instead of going to France, the poor little Prince
was put into an English prison.
When this news was brought to King Robert he was
sitting at supper. As he listened to the messenger, his
face grew pale and he fell forward senseless. His servants
thought that he had died. They carried him to his room
and laid him upon his bed. There he lay like one dead,
and indeed he was so full of grief that he did not care to
live, and soon after, on the 1st of April 1406 a.d., he died.
He had reigned for sixteen years. He was a good and
gentle man, but no fit King for those troublous times.
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