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



The old King was dead, and his young son was a prisoner
in England, so the Duke of Albany had his wish. If he
was not King he was at least Regent. He did not try to
make the English King release his nephew the Prince.
He was glad that he should be prisoner, for now there
was no one to interfere with him or to question his power.
So he made and kept peace with England. This was a
good thing for Scotland, although Albany did it for his
own selfish ends. But he also wanted to make friends
with the barons so that they might continue to let him
rule. He allowed them therefore to oppress the people
and to fight with each other, and he also divided among
them many lands which belonged to the King. All this
was bad for Scotland. In order to rule, the Regent dared
not enforce the laws, so the whole land was filled with
bloodshed and sorrow.

Among the wild barons, was a fierce chieftain called
Donald, Lord of the Isles. He was ruler over the Islands
of the west and had much land on the mainland itself,
and he thought himself as great as any King. But not
content with his many possessions, he claimed, as a right,
the earldom of Ross. This earldom Albany gave to his
son Murdoch.

Full of dreadful wrath, the island Prince gathered an



army, and swearing that he would burn the city of
Aberdeen and make all Scotland a desert to the shores of
Tay, he marched with his wild soldiers through the land.
Where they found quiet farms and peaceful homes they
left only blackened ruins. Making themselves rich with
plunder, they swept on, a trail of fire and smoke telling
the story of their passage.

But the men of Aberdeen rose, and headed by their
brave provost, they marched to meet the Highland host.
They joined the Earl of Mar, who with an army of knights
and gentlemen, was coming to fight Donald. At Harlaw,
about five miles from Aberdeen, a great battle took place.

The Highlanders wore little armour and were wild and
undisciplined, but they far outnumbered the Lowlanders,
and they fought with a fierce and savage courage. Round
the steel-clad knights of the south they swarmed, yelling
madly, fighting with long, two-handed swords, short, sharp
dirks, and mighty battle-axes. They sprang upon the
horses behind their riders, and clung there like wild cats,
driving their dirks again and again into the backs of the
knights, through the joints of their armour. Or with the
hooks upon their battle-axes they pulled the knights out
of their saddles, dealing them deadly blows as they lay
upon the ground.

‘They fell fu close on ilka side,
Sic straiks
ye never saw ;
For ilka sword gaed clash for clash
At the battle of Harlaw.

‘ The Hielandmen wi their lang swords,
They laid on us fu
sair ;
And the
y drave back our merry men,
Three acres breadth and mair.’

But the Lowland men fought calmly through the

218                    SCOTLAND’S STORY

yelling horror that surrounded them, and although many
were slain, the Highlanders were at last driven back.
On the red field of Harlaw hundreds of the noblest
men of Lowland Scotland lay dead, along with hundreds
of Highlanders and Islanders.

‘ Of fifty thousand Hielandmen
Scarce fifty there went hame
And out of a
the Lowlandmen,
But fifty marched wi
Graeme 1

‘ Gin ony body spier at ye
For them we took awa
Ye may te
ll them plain, and very plain,
re sleeping at Harlaw.’

The Highlanders had the worst of the battle. They
did not take Aberdeen, as they had threatened, but went
back to their islands subdued if not conquered.

For thirteen years Albany continued to rule. He was
a very old man, over eighty, when he died. Including
the time he had ruled during his brother‘s life, he had
governed Scotland for thirty-four years. Little good can
be said of him, he was not even brave, as nearly all the
Stewarts have been.

It was during the years in which Albany ruled, that
the first Protestant martyr was killed in Scotland. A
martyr is a person who dies for his religion. Up to this
time all the world had belonged to the Roman Catholic
Church, of which the Pope, as we call the Bishop of
Rome, was the head. But now a few men began to
doubt if all that the Pope commanded them to believe
was right These men came to be called Protestants,
because they openly protested or bore witness to what
they believed. But the Pope, and all those who thought
as he did, were very angry with the Protestants. They
ill-treated them, and often put them to death.


The first martyr was called John Resby. He suffered
a very cruel death, being burned alive at Perth in 1407 a.d.
His books and all that he had written were burned with
him, so that people might forget what he had taught.
But this was not a good way to make people forget, and
in after years many died as he did, rather than pretend to
believe what they did not believe.

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