JAMES III.—THE BATTLE OF SAUCHIEBURN
Having finished their cruel work, the barons broke up the
army, and taking the King, led him prisoner to Edinburgh
castle. All the nobles had been eager and willing to
destroy the King‘s favourites, but when it became known
that some of their number were in league with Edward of
England and with the Duke of Albany, and that they
hoped to place the Duke upon the throne, the others
were angry. So the nobles were divided into two parties,
some for the King, and some for the Duke.
But for a short time these quarrels were forgotten.
Peace was made with England, and Albany came to
Edinburgh, demanding that the King should be set
free. This was done, but soon James found that he was
really his brother‘s prisoner, for the Duke ruled, and
forced the King to do as he wished. Then Albany began
again to plot with the King of England, but this was
discovered, and once more he was forced to flee to
The King was now again really free, and he soon did
many things which displeased his proud barons, and they
became angry with him, and discontented with his rule.
All those, too, who had helped to kill the King’s favourites
felt sure that some day James would punish them, so they
rose in rebellion.
When James heard that the lowland lords were gather-
260 SCOTLAND’S STORY
ing to battle, he fled to the North, leaving his son James,
whom he dearly loved, safe, as he thought, in Stirling
castle. ‘As you love honour and life,’ he said to the
Governor, ‘ let no man enter into the castle till I come
again. Nor let the Prince pass out, nor meet with any
man, but guard and keep him well.’ This the Governor
vowed to do.
But the rebel lords came to him and promised him a
great sum of money if he would give the Prince up to
And the Governor, forgetting his oath to the King,
allowed the Prince to be led away to the camp of the
Then the King, having gathered an army of faithful
men in the North, marched again to Stirling. But the
Governor would not let him come into the castle.
‘ Then let me see my son,’ said the King.
‘ You cannot see him.’
‘ Where is he ? ’ asked the King, still calmly.
‘ He is with the rebel lords ? ‘ replied the Governor.
Then the King was angry. ‘ False traitor, you have
deceived me, and if I live I shall be avenged upon you,’
he cried, and rode away.
Next morning, at Sauchieburn, not far from the
famous field on which the battle of Bannockburn was
fought, the King‘s army and the rebels met. On both
sides fluttered the royal banner, for in the one army was
the King and in the other the Prince. James had never
been a great soldier, and now when he looked across at
the royal standard and remembered that his dear son was
in the army opposite, he had little heart for fighting.
But one of his nobles came to him, bringing a
beautiful grey horse. ‘My liege,’ he said, ‘ I pray you
accept this horse. It is so swift that it will beat any in
THE BATTLE OF SAUCHIEBURN 261
Scotland, so that whether you advance or retreat you are
Then, taking heart, the King mounted upon the beauti
ful grey horse, and led his men against the enemy. But
when the battle began, when he heard the clash and
clang of sword on armour, and all the noise and turmoil
of war, fear came upon him again, and turning his horse
he fled from the field. Over the plain of Bannockburn,
where Bruce had fought and conquered, near to the
Bridge that Wallace had won, this poor King fled until
he came to a mill beside the Bannock burn. There the
miller’s wife stood at a spring filling her pitcher with
water. When she saw a splendidly armed knight come
thundering along on his great war-horse, she was fright
ened. Letting her pitcher drop, she ran screaming
Startled, the King’s horse reared and plunged, and the
King, who could not ride well, was thrown to the ground.
There he lay, stunned with the fall, and sorely bruised.
Then the woman, seeing him lie so still, called to her
husband, and together they carried the King in to the
cottage and laid him upon a bed.
Presently he came to his senses again. Groaning and
in much pain, he asked for a priest.
‘ Who are you ? ‘ said the woman.
‘This day at morn I was your King,’ repüed James
Hearing that, the woman, who seems to have been
easily excited and frightened, ran out into the road wring
ing her hands, and calling out, ‘ A priest, a priest for the
‘ I am a priest,’ said a man who came up at that
moment ‘ Where is the King ? ‘
The miller’s wife, glad so soon to have found what she
262 SCOTLANDS STORY
sought, took the man by the hand and led him quickly
into the cottage where the King lay.
The priest knelt beside the King. ‘Are you sore
wounded ? ’ he asked bending over him.
‘ I know not but that I might recover,’ replied James,
‘ but I desire to confess my sins and to receive pardon for
‘ This shall give you pardon,’ answered the man, and
drawing a dagger, he stabbed the King to the heart again
and again. Then rising, he lifted the dead King in his
arms and went away, no one knew where. No one knew
who he was, or whether he was a priest or no. He was
never heard of more.
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