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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK XIII
FTER David had died, he was replaced by his grandson Malcolm, born of his son Henry, who was still very young, being only in his thirteenth year. Although he was still unequal to the task of government because of his inexperience, nevertheless his singular modesty, honest manners, and wit (for his parents had taken diligent care for his education) offered high hopes that he would prove to be an excellent ruler. For he was so far removed from the lust of early manhood that he loved to keep his not only his mind, but also his body, pure and unsullied, so much that he acquired the nickname of The Maiden, a name that he deserves even at this day, since he never married. In the first year of his reign, King Stephen of England died of chagrin for having lost his crown. And when Malcolm first came to the throne a piteous plague very savagely raged both against men and beasts, albeit it was not contagious, and invaded all of Scotland. Summerled Thane of Argyll rightly diagnosed the situation, that a portion of the population was consumed by the disease, and the rest was either ruined by a dearth of all things or enfeebled by starvation. Holding the king in contempt because of his youth and joined by his neighbors, who were led on by hope of gaining plunder, he marched against the king. Those who tried to obstruct his progress were cut down, and he ravaged the land in a wide circle. This Summerled was more ambitious than his station warranted, since men advanced from humble beginnings to greater things are not in the habit of resting content with moderation. But he did not enjoy his good luck for long. For with an army scraped together from all sides and put in as good order as it could be, Earl Gillechrist of Angus defeated him in a fair battle. Up to two thousand enemies were slain, and, having suffered such a great defeat, Summerled saved his skin by fleeing to Ireland. When these things had been accomplished and the word of them spread abroad, King Henry II of England, fearing that Malcolm would be puffed up by his victory and aim at higher things or be devising other things in his mind, sent a herald to Malcolm summoning him to London to swear his oath for the honors of Cumbria and Huntingdonshire (as his grandfather had once done to King Henry I of England), threatening to retake the aforesaid counties if Malcolm should ignore his command. The young man complied, with the stipulation that nothing should occur to the derogation of Scottish liberty.
2. But Henry, since he was then at war with King Louis VI of France, compelled Malcolm to come along on a French expedition against his will. For although he had come to England relying on the good faith promised by the king, and so could rightfully claim he was free to return to his kingdom, since he was in Henry’s clutches he dared not refuse. And the young king’s nature was mild, peaceful, and not at all wild, being more disposed to religion and to peace than to war. Therefore, even if it were harmful to be led unwillingly against an old friend, since he trusted that later he could make his attitude clear to all men, he deferred to the king’s will. In that expedition the English king harried France with his frequent excursions, and finally set siege to Toulouse. Malcolm was obliged to participate in all these events, to the indignation of his subjects and at the cost of creating bad blood with his old friend the King of France. But, having lost many noblemen, the most noteworthy of whom were King Stephen’s son Count William of Blois and Earl Honnan of Gloucester, Henry went back to England and granted permission to Malcolm to go home. When Malcolm returned to Scotland, he thought the very first thing to do was to send an embassy to the Pope as soon as possible to make the customary gesture of obedience. At that time Eugene III ruled the see of Peter. Bishop William or Moray and Nicholas, the king’s secretary at the time and a man of outstanding virtue, performed that embassy. After they had received a kindly reception from the Pope and had satisfactorily accomplished their business, they happily returned home.
3. Upon his homecoming, the king summoned a parliament of his nobles, and that meeting barely avoided becoming dangerous. For they were gravely aroused against him, and nearly all the nobles said over and over that he was unworthy to be entrusted with such a noble realm who thought it suitable to join such a hated king in bearing arms against an allied nation, confederated with the Scots over the span of so many years, and the business appeared headed for a revolt. But when the king excused himself with a certain modesty, saying he had been compelled to do this, having fallen into his hands as a victim of fraud, to ward off the yoke that would otherwise have been placed on him by such a strong and experienced ruler, and he could without difficulty clear himself in the eyes of the French king. For when that king fully understood the matter, he could easily enter back into the good graces of the French. Since Henry had previously sniffed out the nobles’ anger against Malcolm, he summoned him once more to a meeting at York to increase it as much as he could. For he was gripped by a wonderful greed to acquire Scotland. And so, when they met, he began by making many complaints concerning Malcolm, and finally announced that his intention was to deprive the Scots of Northumbria, Cumbria, and Huntingdonshire, since during his expedition Malcolm had supported the French, to the great detriment of his own subjects, and added that he wished this to be done, not by his own initiative, but in accordance with the common consent of them all. Therefore at his urging they all voted in favor of his plan, although Malcolm spoke many words to the contrary. Yet all of them deferred to need to remain in the the king’s favor, and to his power. Henry thought it useful to influence the minds of the Scottish nobles and people before Malcolm returned home, in order to turn their minds against him, so by means of suitable agents of his crimes he spread the word that Malcolm had agreed to cede those counties in their councils and discussions. Therefore when Malcolm returned to Scotland, ignorant of all these things, he was besieged in the town of Bertha by the Thane of Erndale and a number of other nobles together with a large number of soldiers. But when they understood the business and discovered they had been misled by lies, as I have said, they begged his pardon, called off their siege, and henceforth abided in the best of loyalty. Malcolm, exclaiming that Henry had injured him and stolen those counties, first sought to reclaim them, and then declared war on the English king. After many injuries inflicted and suffered by both sides, they met not far from Carlile to discuss a peace. In that meeting, to the great indignation of his subjects, Malcolm took back Cumbria and Huntingdonshire, but, since there was no hope of recovering it, yielded Northumbria to Henry, a thing for which his subjects never forgave him. Nevertheless they remained quiet lest, while they were fighting against their king, they fall prey to the English king, who for a long time had been plotting against their realm.
4. When this tumult had abated, another arose, which, although not managed with such an investment of resources, was by no means less dangerous than the previous war. For the thing was not managed by open warfare, but rather the king’s enemies secretly sounded out the minds of the king’s friends and the entire Scottish nobility concerning a revolt. When these secret machinations failed to move forward, Angus Thane of Galloway enlisted as large an army as he could and decided to attack the king by violence, hoping that those who thus far had restrained themselves out of fear would cease their hesitation when sure grounds for hope were shown to them. The king sent a choice army to confront him, under the command of Gillechrist of Angus, whose martial virtue and trustworthiness had shone bright in connection with Summerled’s revolt. He fought three battles with his enemies and in the end he chased their leader to Whithorn. There is an asylum there, sacred to St. Ninian, and Malcolm feared to violate the sanctity of that place, but carefully surrounded it on all sides. At the length, Angus wearied of this protracted siege, despaired of his changes, and negotiated for a surrender. The king took his son as a hostage and allowed him to go free, although mulcted of the greater part of his land. When Angus saw that he was not only stripped of his former authority and dignity, but also of nearly all his honors, he shaved his pate and spent the rest of his life as a canon of Holyrood at Edinburgh.
5. Next, another uprising arose, displaying equal contempt royal authority, but involving far greater danger and barbarous cruelty. Under the leadership of Gildo, the Moray men used steel and fire to harry their neighbors, the people of Ross, Boyne, Mar, Gareoth, Buchan, and Merne, and also, in violation of international law, cruelly killed to the last man a delegation sent Gildo to complain about his wrongdoings. Hearing this, the king grew irate and, immediately enlisting an army, sent Gillechrist to avenge himself on the Moray men for such great crimes. When he arrived, however, even though he was an experienced and knowledgeable commander who had always prospered in the many battles he had fought, spurred on by their sense of guilt, by an exercise of great might and boldness they routed him. Hearing of this misfortune, Malcolm assembled an even larger army, and, thinking his own presence necessary to fill his soldiers with a sense of shame, once more marched against Moray. In yet another battle they fought, if with no less spirit, at least with a very different outcome. For they met near Speymouth, and having fought a long while on equal terms, Malcolm retired his wearied soldiers into his second rank and sent fresh ones in to fight against their exhausted enemies, and routed the Moray men. Then a great slaughter ensued, for the king had commanded that no man be spared. And, since the king through that the destruction of their army was no sufficient punishment, he gave instructions that their nation should be eradicated with equal ardor. Sparing only children, old men, and women, he set a horrid and memorable example of the price of violating international law. For, even if that cruel deed might strike someone as too savage for such a mild-mannered king to have done, nevertheless, since such frequent upheavals and rebellions were erupting on all sides, he thought it necessary to use this single just cause for butchery as an example to cow the rest. After virtually the entire race of Moray men had been destroyed, he arranged that settlers and farmers from all over Scotland be sent there, so that its land would not lie fallow and untended, parceling out land and estates for them.
6. After these things had occurred, Summerled Thane of Argyll, whom I have above written to have been conquered and fled to Ireland, thinking that, as the result of such a great slaughter, the minds of the nobility, otherwise not very well-disposed towards the king, would be entirely alienated from him, concluded he should try his fortune once more. So he assembled a small band of unarmed soldiers and crossed over to Scotland. But his undertakings turned out even more unhappily than they had before. For, having suffered a defeat at Renfrew, with all his followers slain save for some who had deserted at the beginning of the fight, he himself shamefully fell into his enemies’ hands alive, and was brought to the king and paid the due penalty for his disloyalty by being hanged on a very high gallows. Then the king, freed from all concern about war since he had no enemy to fear, turned his attention to the responsibilities of peace. He had two sisters who were now of marriageable age, both excellent for their beauty and manners. The elder was named Margaret, and the younger Ada. He married one to Duke Conan of Brittany, and the other to Count Floris of Holland. Having attended to those matters, he convened a parliament of the Scottish nobility to discuss matters of state. When their business was finished, Bishop Ernald of St. Andrews, a man distinguished for his sanctity of his life and secular prudence, stood up and said, “Today I must speak about one thing, your majesty, which greatly touches on our common affairs. And so this can be achieved with greater ease, pray pay careful heed, for it pertains no less to yourself than to the safety and tranquility of the realm. During these previous days when you were arranging marriages for your sisters, I could easily gather that you have made up your mind to spend your entire life as a celibate. Since you made this undertaking with a youthful and excessive love of virtue, if you will believe me, who have never given you any advice or exhortation without good point, if you will give your approval to a thing more useful and necessary to yourself and your realm than any other single thing, you will abandon this stubbornness of mind and think better thoughts. For what is more honorable than something not a matter of human law, not legislated by Minos of Crete, Lycurgus of Sparta, or Solon of Athens, from whose books, as if from the sources of all equity, all Roman laws and ordinances were derived, but were first taught to mankind by God Himself?
7.“If the Creator of all things had known of anything better, it would have been bestowed on us by Him. And again, what is more praiseworthy among all men than that love by which everything in the world is most affected? Or (as all men admit) that is most praiseworthy which is most agreeable to nature, ad what is more natural than the union of a man and a woman? You should not strive to surpass that which nature allows, in the manner of Icarus or the Giants. You will perhaps say that celibacy is praised above all else by the authority of many of the saints, or even, if you will, by Christ Himself. But what is the consequence? We are not all granted by God to taste of this. Inasmuch as men exist whom Christ has chosen for it, so that they might preach the Lord’s Word to His people, I do not find their celibacy objectionable, and indeed I regard it as necessary. But this is not your lot in life, this is not your vocation. Your duty is to govern properly the realm you have received from God. And to do the best in this, what else must you do than to set an excellent example for your people, and take the lead in showing them the things in which they can imitate you? It is your principal duty not only to teach them with your laws and edicts, but to lead them to the virtues you embody in your life and manners. And what more useful or pleasant thing can a man invent than to have a wife with whom you can share all your sadness of mind and all your sorrows, if any befall you, and who in her turn can console you with her sympathy and sweet words? A wife who delights the man in good health, who calms the irate man, who refreshes the weary on , consoles the sick mind, and heals the sick body? You should not lack confidence in your ability to find a woman suitable to your mind. Others, indeed, have this concern and run this risk, but what fear can or should there be for you, since nothing can escape your notice? Finally, can a king or emperor have anything greater or more necessary than a supply of children, who are of great use both in peace and war? In peace, because they can faithfully govern the commonwealth in accordance with your guidance, since you have learned that faithful men are a rarity; in war, since to whom would you rather entrust an army? Who would your subjects fear, or barbarians dread, more than those whom they know to be the sons of the king and his heirs? It has truly been said by ancient philosophers that we are not born only for ourselves, but partly for our friends, and partly for our children and parents, and most of all for our nation, and above all others this pertains to those chosen by nature or God to preside over public affairs. And so, if I have shown it to be honorable, praiseworthy, useful, and necessary for all other men, but especially for those whose progeny are destined to rule the commonwealth, do not imagine you are performing a welcome service for God if you cheat your nation and realm of hope for a continued line of succession.”
8. By these arguments and many others he vainly sought to dissueade the king’s mind from its intention, but only made him more determined than ever not to swerve from his purpose. For he was a young man endowed with a divine spirit, who stubbornly withstood his desires, and held in disdain all other things in comparison with those he understood to be the most important, saying that from boyhood he had dedicated his chastity to Christ, and that God had taken care that there would be no lack of others to whom the throne might pass after his death. Therefore, this business unaccomplished, the parliament was dismissed. Then, when the king had retired to bed when visited by a grave malady, having made his peace with King Henry of England, he laid the foundation for the very noble church of St. Andrew at Kilruel, bestowing on its Augustinian canons a small amount of lambs, the revenues of which might support their holy offices. For thus the men who were notable for their pious worship of God, as many priests then were, comported themselves, not gravitating to that way of life out of greed or idleness, but so that with their constant hymns and prayers they might most fitly serve God. A few days later he founded Cowper. That is an abbey dedicated to the holy Virgin, richly endowed. It houses men of the holy Cistercian Order, famed for their great piety, unsullied by any manifest infamy down to this very day. At the time Archbishop Roger of York, the current papal legate, was banished from Scotland because of his evil reputation for avarice. For the king thought (and rightly so) it was unworthy to allow the court of a temperate sovereign and his kingdom to be open to men of ill repute, no matter how high honors they possessed. And it was during the reign of this same king that Thomas of Canterbury was banished from England, a man exceedingly famed for his learning and sanctity of life.
9. When Malcolm’s dying day was almost upon him, two weeks before he departed this life, to the great wonder and fear of all men a comet was seen to be burning with two very long tails. He died at Jedburgh in the twelfth year of his reign, in the year after the Incarnation 1165. His funeral rites were performed with great magnificence, and then he was taken to Dumfermline and, after the custom of his ancestors, buried in the common tomb of the kings. He was succeeded by his brother William, known as the Lion for his outstanding devotion to justice. As soon as he had gained the crown, not being able to tolerate the insult committed by King Henry of England, not just against his brother Malcolm, but also against the entire Scottish nation, he sent messengers to him demanding back Northumbria. Henry’s response that in this matter he would do what was just and right, but William should come to London, as had his forebears, to swear for Cumbria and Huntingdonshire. When the delegation had returned home and reported this, William had no hesitation in going to London and, having sworn for the two aforementioned counties, requested the return of the third, Northumbria, which had fradulently taken away by the English king. Henry replied it was impossible that what was accounted one of his royal possessions could be given away by his personal decision, so that the matter would require more time: he needed to convene a parliament of all the English nobility, where things would go his way and his just request would be satisfied. Meanwhile Henry crossed over to Normandy, and William did not dare refuse his request that he accompany him, lest his refusal be alleged as a reason for denying his petition. Many nobles both English and Scottish participated in that journey. But when Henry neither came to any conclusion about the return of Northumbria, nor said a word about going back to England, William could not tolerate any longer delay and asked Henry’s permission to return. He eventually received Henry’s grudging consent and crossed back to England with his followers. From there he hurried back to Scotland, where he distinguished himself by his management of public affairs, performing the most excellent duties of a king in peacetime.
10. Whatever men he could apprehend who were guilty of any felony, he would try and condemn. Furthermore, he placed garrisons in his castles to prevent evildoing of robbers, who existed in great supply. Which strikes me as a fine thing to have done. since, if robbery is compared with warfare, it seems no less harmful to commonwealths. For where robbery exists, after a harmless traveler or merchant has sold off his wares in the market-place and, not being able to identify robbers and hence imagining it safe to enter into conversation with all manner or men, becomes a marked man in the city, he subsequently has his throat wretchedly cut over some trifling thing in a forest or cave, in mountains, or sometimes even in an open field. And these are comparatively small things, for if those fellows gather to a larger gang they do not abstain from farmsteads or entire villages. They threaten death on the peasantry if a certain amount of money is not produced by the appointed hour, since they are helpless to resist, or even openly attack them. Against others they commit arson, using slow fuses soaked with sulphur and pitch, which can burn for days before the fire reaches the sulphur. Worse evils are committed in wartime, but these are open ones, so one may make his escape if he fears them. And the things which occur in war do not seem as pitiful or undeserved as those perpetrated during robberies. For in war age and sex are speared, but robbery rages against all alike, as long as something can be taken away. And so it seems no less praiseworthy to cleanse a district of robberies than to kill many thousands of enemies.
11. Having done these things, once more he sent a delegation demanding Northumbria from the king of England. And when the English king saw that he would either have to fight or yield, in accordance with the common opinion of his nobles he ceded that part which William’s great-grandfather Malcolm had gained. Although William regard that offered portion of Northumbria as by no means to be scorned, nevertheless he said that he was unwilling to lose his right over the whole of it. But a few years thereafter Henry began to grumble that such a prize, his former possession of which made itall the more valuable in his eyes, had been taken away, and sought to gain it back by furtive counsels, persuading certain Northumbrians who remained his subjects to stage raids and provoke the Scots into taking up arms. Thus, he could contend that the Scots, although they were the weaker nation, had been the first to begin the war, and thus he could recover not only Northumbria, but Cumbria and Huntingdonshire as well. When this had been done and reported to the king, he sought reparations from the warden. For this is the man appointed, both on the Scottish side of the border and the English, who supervises the payments of restitution, should either nation make a foray or raid into the territory of the other without the knowledge of its king. Receiving no fair response, William collected his forces and with his army he laid waste to the English borderlands. But inasmuch as Henry chanced to be in France at that time and the crops were ripe, the English were content to defend their own, lest they be wholly stripped of their possessions, and not to march any farther or cross over the border to wage war.
12. And so they were harried by Scottish arson and devastation during the following winter as well . During the ensuing summer William was no more behindhand in recruiting as large an army as he could and invading English territory yet again for the sake of wreaking his havoc. Earl Gillechrist of Angus, who had married the king’s sister as a reward for the outstanding martial virtue he had often displayed at many places, had the right wing. The commander of the left was a kinsman of the king named Rowland, who had also been appointed his master of horse. The king himself led the van. When he was idle while his army was being enrolled, the English had sent ambassadors to William begging him to cease gathering and army and depart the territory he presently occupied, in exchange for a great sum of money. William’s answer to them was that he was not in the habit of either beginning or ending wars according to the dictates of money, and that they rather than himself had begun inflicting war’s harm, at a time when he himself was in all ways pursuing a policy of peace. Back then, when no evil was hanging over their necks, they had given him a fierce replay, but now that they saw it to be impending and that they had no means of escape, they had made an appearance as suppliants. Nonetheless, he was not so inhuman or bloodthirsty that, if only they would repay him for the damage they had inflicted and agree to restore Northumbria, his by hereditary right, he would hold his peace and afterwards depart. When this had been reported to the English by their ambassadors, they requested that at any rate some time be allotted for delegations to pass back and forth and arrange matters, and meanwhile that they might have a less hostile enemy, held back by the hope of peace. They also made this request so that, if given the chance, they could practice some deception. And once more they sent a delegation to William promising, as they say, heaps of gold.
13. Meanwhile, so as to attack them unawares, the Engliosh all gathred in the night at a place not far removed from the Scottish army, and divided their forces into two parties. They ordered one of these to wait in the middle of a field until sunrise, and then to challenge their enemy to fight. The other was to wait silently in a nearby valley until the enemy army had passed it by, and then attack it with a great outcry, so as to frighten it. And so it came about that the English marched up to the Scottish camp in battle array at sunrise, and came into sight before any word of their coming had been received. The Scotsmen were at first thrown into confusion by this unexpected thing, but then summoned their courage, snatched up their arms, and came out of the camp to draw themselves up opposite the enemy battle-line. When some initial skirmishing had taken place, suddenly, by prearrangement, the English feigned a planic and fled, scattering as much as they could. For thus they estimated that the enemy would likewise disperser, so that when they fell into the ambush they could not easily reorganize themselves. Nor were they wrong in their expectaiton. For when the Scottish broke ranks and gave chase to the fleeing Englishmen, they deserted their king, practically denuded of all protection, in the middle of the battlefield. And so those who had been placed in ambush, seeing the king to be abandoned with a handful of Scotsmen, attacked just as they had been instructed to do. Meanwhile those who had previously feigned flight turned about at a sign from the captain. First they received their pursuers. Then those who sprang out of ambush put the Scottish into disarray, so that they crowded backwards, and finally they who had previously pretended to flee compelled them to resort to genuine flight.
14. When his men had been driven off, William was left between two hostile forces, equal to neither of them, and yet for a while he managed to fend them off by a supreme exertion, attempting to break out of their encirclement in any direction he could. Finally, when he realized their was no escape and that his followers were failing while he alone was being attacked, he surrendered to his enemies. There was not much bloodshed on either side, since the Englishmen who had feigned flight managed to run as far as the place of the ambuscade, escaping their pursuers with no difficulty, and the Scotsmen frightened by the English springing from concealment could not long withstand the supposed fugitives after they wheeled about, and soon ran back to their surrounded king, where they saw they could achieve nothing other than getting away with safety. The captive William was immediately conveyed to King Henry in Normandy. The year in which these things occurred was the year of Christ our Redeemer 1174, the ninth of William’s reign. And afterwards neither side ceased from warring. When the English quickly followed up their victory by occupying all of Northumbria, and then tried to invade Cumbria, they were kept away by the soldiers recuperated from their flight with the accession of newly-conscripted companies, under the leadership of Gillechrist and Rowland. Finally they entered into a kind of a peace, on the condition that the English would retain Northumbria as long as William was held in captivity, and they themselves would retain Cumbria and Huntingdonshire.
15. Two years prior to William’s capture, Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, whom I have said above to have gone into exile because of his stubborn defense of the liberty of the Church, was reconciled with King Henry of England thanks to the intervention of Pope Alexander, King Louis of France,a nd Count Philip of Flanders, and was retrieved from exile. But this was entirely to his misfortune. For Henry could not long restrain the hatred he had long ago conceived and kept stored up in his heart, and not many days thereafter, during the afternoon of the fifth day after Christmas, Hentry most foully and cruelly butchered him as he clung to the alter in Canterbury Cathedral, trying to protect its holy things from harm, by four of his agents, William Breton, Hugh Norville, William Tracy, and Reginald Fitz, in violation of his word. Even after the passage of time, this should remain fresh in our minds, even if he later denied it. For in the following year, when he returned from an Irish expedition (for they had refused to submit to his rule), he crossed over to Normandy, wherein the Cathedral of rouen, in the presence of two cardinals, Albert and Tertuin, and great throng, he set his hand on Christ’s Gospels and swore a solemn oath that he was innocent of that murder. But in the selfsame wyear he visited the tomb of St. Thomas, going barefoot and clad only in a linen shift, and tearfully expiated his sons. And in the third year after he received the crown of martyrdom, this holy man was canonized by Pope Alexander. In that year a portent appeared,, a great star srurounded by a circle of reddish stars shone by night in day, hanging stationery in the western sky.
16. Hearing of William’s misfortune, his brother David Earl of Leicester, whom Henry kept at his side wherever he went, was given permission to return home and govern the kingdom during his absence. After establishing a reasonable degree of peace as best he could, he sent ambassadors to Henry in Normandy, negotiating for the release of a man who was at once his king and his brother. The leader of the delegation was Bishop Richard of St. Andrews, in the company of several noblemen. Coming to the English king, they entered into an agreement whereby they procured the king’s immediate release on certain conditions. These were that he should pay a ransom of 100,000 pounds sterling, part to be provided immediately, and Cumbria, Huntingdonshire, and Northumbria were put in pawn until the rest could be paid. Furthermore, William was henceforth never to march against England for this reason. As a guarantee for his compliance, he was bidden to hand over the four very strong castles of Berwick, Roxburgh, the Maidens’ Castle, and Sterling. When this composition had been made, on his return he was greeted by a revolt. For Gilbert Macfergus, a man who combined within himself conspicuoius cruelty conjoined with a lust for power, foolishly claimed the royal title, foully laid waste to the districts bordering on Galloway, and intended to conquer all of Scotland. And so he immediately slaughtered those who did not support his undertakings. When his brother rebuked him, he had no compunction about depriving him of his eyes and hands. Gillechrist of Angus went against him with numerous forces and defeated him in a very bloody battle. For Gilbert had an army composed of dyed-in-the-wool criminals who were very accustomed to running risks. For every man who had committed some such atrocious felony as homicide or parricide and was aware his life would be endangered were he to be caught rallied to his standard from the regions round about, as if escaping to an asylum. For, were a new king to be put on the throne, they were in high hopes not only of impunity for their misdeeds, but even of receiving great rewards.
17. And so their first clash was a very hot one, and hung in the balance for a while, as the one side fought for their lives and their good hope, and the other for their nation against a very cruel tyrant. But since Gillechrist had the larger numbers, by retiring his wearied soldiers and replacing them with fresh ones he eventually routed his enemy. And so great slaughter was done on the runaways, and more fell in the retreat than in the fight. Gilbert of Galloway ran away from the battle and kept on running until he came to the island of Mona. Then he fled into Ireland. In the following year Cardinal Hugo, Dean of Santangelo, was sent to England as papal legate, who was to exercise extreme diligence in inspecting English churches and make necessary reforms, and then to continue to Scotland and do the same. When he had finished his business in England, he summoned all the Scottish bishops to appear before him on a stated day at Northampton. They complied, and at a council held there he revealed his mandate: the pope had commanded that all the bishops of Scotland be placed under the Archbishop of York, and he delivered a prolix speech urging them to tolerate this with equanimity. All other bishops elsewhere had some presiding prelate to whom they were subordinated, lest they be put to the trouble and expense of addressing their complaints and suits directly to the pope. There was no metropolitan in any Scottish city, where they might convene to discuss difficult matters, they had no association among themselves, which would serve as their greatest protection against their adversaries. And so the Archbishop of York would be an opportune patron, being not far away and powerful with his wealth and resources, who could quickly come to their aid, should their adversaries create the need. Additionally, it was most suitable to our religion that they cheerfully submit to their superiors in number. It would be highly meritorious if they would submit to majority government. For the supreme virtues of humility and obedience shine forth in us most greatly, if we silently and willingly tolerate the government of the majority
18. Gilbert, a young man conspicuous both for his learning and sanctity, replied to these things by saying he had been sent to this council by William King of Scots to ensure that no harm was done to himself or his realm by the cardinal. Ever since its conversion to Christianity, Scotland had been free, and was subject to no foreign man save for the pope in his capacity as vicar of Christ. It was iniquitous for the pope to demand that the Scots be subjected to the English, with whom they were almost continually warring. If he wished to consider the piety and concord between them, he should first realize that nothing had ever been done by their bishops which merited the deprivation of their liberty. And, second, there was no need to sow new seeds of war with foreigners. If there was anything within themselves deserving of correction (which, he maintained, had until that point not occurred), this was a business to be dealt with by their king. As far as piety and the other virtues went, they had amongst themselves men of distinguished virtue and learning who could provide instruction in them by their own efforts and tireless exertions. Therefore the king greatly begged and beseeched the holy pontiff to rest content with the present state of affairs, and not expose his realm, which had never deserved ill of himself or the Roman see, to the harm of its enemies. By these and other arguments Gilbert offered an excellent defense of his case and of the liberty of the Church of Scotland. Therefore the legate went away, his mission unaccomplished. This Gilbert was subsequently made Bishop of Caithness, a man who displayed wonderful sanctity of life as long as he remained among the living, and after succumbing to nature’s necessity and setting aside this fragile body with its human nature, he was numbered among the saints.
19. A number of portents were seen that year. On the Day of the Nativity of John the Baptist such a great quantity of hail fell from the sky that it came close to killing such smaller animals as sheep and goats, and men on the road or in other unsheltered places were also knocked off their feet. And on the thirteenth of September the sun darkened at midday, at a time when there was no eclipse and the sky was cloudless, to the extent that it remained pallid for the better part of two hours. In the diocese of York there was a strange amount of thunder and lightning in the sky, which burned several abbeys, together with their inmates and other men.At about this time was built the famous monastery of Arbroath, a structure of most magnificent size, having a chapel furnished with every manner of rich thing, including gold and silver vessels and most costly and ornate furnishings. It was also endowed with annual revenues and widespread landholdings. From the time of its first foundation until today it has housed men second to none for the innocence of their lives and the probity of their ways, living according rule of St. Benedict and originally fetched from Kelso. The foundations of its chapel, dedicated to St. Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, were laid by William King of Scots, who knew him very well in his boyhood, in about the year of the world’s Redemption 1178. In the same year, William’s mother Ada, having built a very wealthy abbey at Haddington, departed this life. At this time, following the tradition of his ancestors, William sent John Bishop of St. Andrews and Reginald, the first Abbot of Arbroath to Pope Alexander III at Rome, to pledge obedience in his name. Pleased by this, Alexander sent home with them a balsam-filled gold rose as a token and pledge of his singular good-will towards the king, and also bestowed on him a number of special privileges.
20. Not long thereafter, Gillechrist of Angus, whom I have frequently mentioned before, was enraged because he suspected his wife of adultery. He first ejected her from his castle, and then hanged her at Mannes, a village about a mile from Dundee. The king was very irate at the indignity of the thing (for she was his sister), and stripped him of all his goods. When he could not find him by a careful search, he declared him an enemy, and razed his castle to the ground so thoroughly that scarce any trace of it remains to be seen. A little before this Gillechrist had presented his brother Gilbert with the land of Ogilvie, which was origin of the not undistinguished name and clan of the Ogilvies. Although it came close to eradication thanks to Gillechrist’s crime, nevertheless, thanks to its virtue and good faith, it later became so noble that in later times it was second to none at the royal court. Meanwhile William’s wife died: her name and clan are unknown, I suspect because he was still a private subject at the time of their marriage, so that she has been neglected by historians. He bestowed their like-named daughter Ada in marriage to Patrick Earl of Louden. At this time, at the behest of Bishop Hugh of Durham, King Henry of England returned the so-called Maidens’ Castle to William. And in place of his dead wife William married Ermengarde, daughter of the Viscount de Beaumont, the granddaughter of William the Bastard, whom I have said to be the first man of Norman blood to govern England, by his daughter. And a law was passed by both kings that whoever had been declared an enemy or banished by one of them should be excluded from the territories of them both. The result was that Gillechrist could no longer hide in England, and so he changed his dress so as to be unrecognizable, and wherever he fled he was subject to intolerable insults by the English. Therefore, since he had no place to flee or live in exile where, if he maintained his true identity, some king would not prosecute him is a felon, he escaped back to Scotland, and there he lived for a while with his two sons, the companions of his exile, drag;ging on a miserable existence in forests and caves.
21. At about the same things that these things of which I have written transpired in Scotland, in Asia Saladin fought terrible wars and sorely harried Palestine’s Judea, which we speak of as the Holy Land, and finally brought the whole of it under his power, having captured Jerusalem, Ptolemais, and nearby cities. It was possessed by Christians at this time, and he hated them all like poison, although he himself was most deserving, not only of dislike and hatred, but of being put to torture for his sacrilege. Therefore this victor exercised a most cruel tyranny over the conquered. For he did not hand over King Guy and Romald, the Grand Master of the Templars, to his executioner, but killed him with his own hands in order to gain more pleasure from the blood of his enemies, something previously unheard-of. The others taken alive, who amounted to thirty-six thousand foot soldiers, twelve hundred together with Templars, Hospitallers, priests, and whatever civilians they could capture, were all put to death at his command. First this catastrophe of Christendom was reported in France, and then in England, and was announced to King Henry, which created great grieving and lamentation everywhere. This was increased by spokesmen of the survivors, who described their calamities and the tyrant’s cruelty, and told what they had suffered during the sieges and after having been captured, things so monstrous that I cannot recite them without tears. They went on to recount the great abuse they daily suffered for their devotion to Christianity at the hands of evil adherents of sacrilegious laws. And, something intolerable to lovers of Christ and not even to be heard with unmoved by ears even by the sacrilegious among us, they told how daily men were crucified on Christ’s Cross before the city gates as a great entertainment. Their words moved all men to pity. For his part, Henry gave them a hospitable reception and sent them away filled with hope .Thinking he should not hesitate, he assembled all the necessities for his departure as quickly as he could, intending to recruit a numerous army and cross over to Asia and bring aid to those Christians. But a domestic revolt prevented him from fulfilling those intentions. For his son Henry, whom he had crowned a dew days previously and who loathed his father, entered into a conspiracy with certain English lords, and decided to usurp the throne rather than awaiting his father’s death. When this came to light, Henry abandoned his project.
22. At this time, William marched against Macelyn and Macbain in Ross. These robbers, who dwelt in the Hebrides islands, had for some years been despoiling Ross, Caithness, Moray, crossing over in their fast ships. whenever they pleased, or when some hope of plunder summoned them. Whenever they heard that the king was coming against them with an army, they would mock their enemy, take ship with their plunder, and flee to their islands, and so for years they had vexed the aforesaid districts with their evils. But this time, when William learned those robbers were widely ravaging Moray, he sent some ships with a sufficient number of soldiers abroad to burn the enemy fleet, preventing the robbers from a return, while he with a swift-moving army marched into Moray on the trail of the enemies. When he had driven them into Ross and they had vainly tried to flee back to their fleet, now burned, he intercepted and captured them, not without loss of blood. Then he beheaded them and ordered them all to be hung in mid-air after the Saxon manner to feed the crows and serve as an example to other robbers. With Ross and Moray thus pacified, William decided to turn aside on his way and visit the abbey of Arbroath, whose foundations he had recently laid. When he had seen to it that the supervisors of the works and the craftsmanwere amply rewarded in proportion to their rank, he begged and beseeched thay they spare no expense in building as grand a work as possible, and to strive with might and main lest anything be wanting to its ornamentation or dignity. He himself would stand all expenses, if only the supervisors would gather the best possible materials from every source and the workmen finish them off as elegantly as they could.
23. From there the king was making his way towards Bertha when, behold, contrary to all expectation from the king’s highway Gillechrist and his two sons could be seen, digging turf from the ground with hoes and thus earning a pauper’s livelihood. When he failed to recognize them because of their changed manner of dress and was astonished why such handsome young man had been reduced to this condition, for they did not appear born into that station of life, the old man came running up with his two sons, his hoary head uncovered, and, falling at the king’s feet, thus began to speak: “If you have any room for pity, as I hope you do, most merciful king, if you can forgive ruined men for the many wrongs they have committed during their lifetimes, then I beg you in the name of our merciful Christ, who has redeemed our unworthy selves with His blood, I beseech you together with my innocent sons, who have thus far so piously consoled their father’s miseries, that you condescend to take us back into your grace.” Then, when bidden to tell his name and the cause of their unhappiness, with his face covered with tears, as if overcome by his sobs of fear and sorrow, he held his silence. At length, having been told to be of good cheer, he hung his head and tearfully said, “I am Gillechrist, the unhappiest of all living men, who, inspired by I know not what evil destiny, dared raise an angry hand against a person of the royal blood. Therefore I was visited by well-deserved evils, despoiled of my entire patrimony, and I took my two sons and fled into exile in England. But there they submitted me to unspeakable mistreatment, jeering at me for my earlier fortune and mocking me as if I were still in command of any army, calling me over and over a fearful enemy. And then I was expelled by your common law concerning exiles, and could find no place where I could live out my life together with my children, so I returned to Scotland, concealing myself and my sons in forests and caves lest someone chance to recognize there. In summer, herbs and roots fed us, but in winter we were obliged to come out, and we sought to earn enough to satisfy nature’s necessities by begging, and then, as you see, by turfing. So if there is any place left in you for prayers, if with the passage time your indignation has left you, and no fresh sorrow and anger remain in your mind, pity us suppliants, forgive us penitents. We are not asking for our forefathers’ heritage or our former dignity, we only hope to breathe our native air, where we may be permitted to earn our poor livelihood with our hands. If we obtain this from you, you will not only gain glory and a reputation among all nations, but you will gain the favor of Him to Whom you most greatly cling, Christ, by imitating Him with your singular willingness to forget this insult.”
24. The king was moved by his words, as he recalled the martial virtue of this once-excellent commander and his former good fortune, which he enjoyed in a manner second no no man save the king, and, on the other and, the witnessed the present calamity amidst which the old man wretchedly lived, together with those who handsome sons who chose to follow him. He not only forgave him all his offenses, but wept, embraced him, and told to be of good cheer and have good hope. Then he gave the old man and his sons horses so that they might ride with him as far as Forfar. Once there, on the following day the king summoned him, forgave him for all his offences, restored him to his former dignity, and gave them that part of his land which he had not already transferred to the new abbey of Arbroath. Henceforth Gillechrist abided in his loyalty to the king, and was so far from begrudging the monastery for possessing a part of his landholdings that he displayed the greatest generosity towards it and its monks. For, since one of his sons departed this life before he did, and the other was unfit to marry, he donated a large part of his land to Arbroath in his lifetime. Nor did his son Gilbert fail to match his father in generosity, for after his father’s death he gave it yet more land, and dealt with it very affectionately in his lifetime. The father and his two suns were buried in that abbey’s very noble chapel in front of the altar sacred to St. Catharine, as is shown by the inscription on their tomb. But even if William was very much occupied with the construction of Arbroath, he nonetheless omitted nothing which pertained to the welfare of this commonwealth or the responsibilities of a good ruler. For he continued administering the law on a daily basis, visiting due punishment on the guilty and bestowing rewards on the deserving. He passed severe laws against robbers and those who harmed wards, widows, or the helpless commons, so that even his name was a source of dread. I have thought it superfluous to name them here, because they are on all men’s lips.
25. Meanwhile King Henry of England, the son of the Empress Maud, whom I have often discussed above, passed away. He was replaced by his second son Richard, since his firstborn son Henry, the one I have said above to have received a crown, had died before his father. Being a strong and high-spirited young man, Richard thought there was no room for delay and announced a Crusade to Judea, appointing a certain day for his army to assemble. Meanwhile, so that all things might be on a more secure footing in his absence, he thought his neighbors should no longer be restrained by fear, but rather won over by good will, so he summoned William King of Scots, and restored the those three castles he still retained, I mean Berwick, Roxburgh, and Sterling, and that part of Northumbria which his father had appropriated after defeating William, as well as Cumbria and Huntingdonshire, with the sole proviso that his own soldiers should continue to garrison all the castles in those counties. Furthermore, he forgave him the debt for which those four castles had been in pawn, taking only ten thousand silver pounds to help subsidize his coming Crusade to the Holy Land. Taking these back, William immediately bestowed the county of Huntingdonshire on is brother David. Accepting this and swearing for it to Richard in accordance to the precedent established by Malcolm I, and he joined him on the Crusade together with five hundred followers, partially subsidized by himself, and partially by Richard.
26. Having appointed as his heir Duke Arthur of Brittany, his nephew by his sister, should he die childless, and entrusting his realm to his brother John, with a hundred ships Richard set sail from the port of Marseilles with the aforementioned David, Baldwin Archbishop of Canterbury, Hugh Bishop of Salisbury, Ralph Earl of Gloucester, and a great host of men. These things were done in the year of Redemption 1191. A little earlier, King Philippe of France had set sail from the port of Genoa. With him were very noble men: Odo Duke of Burgundy, Philippe Count of Flanders, Henri Count of Champaign, Theobald Count of Bois, and Etienne Count of St. Cesare, together with a large number of archbishops, bishops, and priests. Philippe landed at the harbor of Ptolemais, formerly known as Acre. At the moment, the Saracens were in possession of the city, so he straightway set siege to it. When Richard arrived at Cyprus after having enjoyed a fair voyage, he decided that he must first clear that island of the enemy and restore it to Christians, rather than going onwards and leaving an enemy at his back. So his army first harried the island, and finally he captured its king, a Saracen, together with his daughter, killed those of the Saracen persuasion, and gave back the island to Christians. Next, while sailing towards Ptolemais he encountered an enemy fleet coming to the relief of Ptolemais. This Richard destroyed and sank, having killed its sailors and the land soldiers it was carrying, and joined Philippe at Ptolemais. The siege of that city dragged on for a number of months, since the Saracens were putting up a stout defense. Then a large section of its outer wall was shattered by a battering-ram and collapsed.
27. Meanwhile an opportunity for ending the siege was offered by a Christian who was thought to be a Saracen and belonged to the city garrison. This was a Scotsman named Oliver, who once had been at the royal court, but was convicted of theft and banished, and so fled to the Saracens. After having learned their language and manners, he was believed to be one of them and served as a soldier at Ptolemais. As chance would have it, he was stationed at a gate situated where the city was protected by only a single wall, and therefore defended by very stout towers. Therefore when he saw men in David’s service among those standing watch outside the wall, particularly a certain John Durward, a friend from his days at court, he addressed him in their native language, and, as happens in such circumstances, they exchanged words on various subjects. John took advantage of the occasion to test the man’s mind, to see whether, should the chance arise, he would open that gate (for Oliver was not yet dead set against Christians). Oliver’s reply was that he was willing, on condition that, when the business had been finished, David would give him back his nationality and lands. When John had promised this on his captains’ word, they established an hour of the night for the doing of the deed, pledged their mutual good faith, and departed. Meanwhile Oliver employed large promises to corrupt his fellow soldiers. At the predetermined hour, David, who had been entrusted with this responsibility by his fellow commanders, was let in the gate together with a large number of his men. Then they filled everything with their shouting, commotion, and killing. At dawn Richard entered the captured city. For Philippe had fallen ill a little earlier and returned to France. Only the stronghold remained in enemy hands, and, after having battered it for a number of days, he took it and killed every living thing within.
28. They would have doubtless captured Palestine and the other regions taken from the Christians by the impious race of Saracens, had not a quarrel that arose between the French and English, inspired by nothing more important than their ambition, impeded their undertakings. When Ptolemais had been sacked and leveled to the ground and Richard was sailing towards Italy, a great storm arose and scattered his fleet. He was all but deserted, taken prisoner by the deceit of certain Christians, and brought to the Emperor Henry. The ship carrying Earl David of Huntingdton was blown to Egypt, where it ran aground on shoals, and he and a few others barely managed to gain the land alive. There he was captured by the locals, taken to Alexandria, and imprisoned. Having languished in captivity for a long time, he was freed thanks to the intervention of some Venetian merchants, fell into their hands, and first taken to Constantinople, and then to Venice, where he was recognized by Englishmen who had come there to conduct trade. They treated him with liberality for a while, and then he was allowed to return home. But when he arrived at Flanders and had hired a ship at Gessoriacum (the modern Sluis), he set sail for Scotland. But when he had been at sea a little while, once more a storm arose and very perilously drove him not far from Norway and the Shetlands. For this was a winter crossing, and therefore highly dangerous. Amidst his perils he vowed a church to the holy Virgin in exchange for a safe homecoming, and by her help he was rescued. During the middle of the night, he landed in the Tay estuary at Alectum, not far from the crag where a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas now stands, and beached his ship, now lacking its sails and rudder. When the dawn came and he saw that he was free of his dangers and safely arrived at his own nation, he happily sprang ashore, and thanked God and the holy Virgin with all his heart. And he changed the name of the town from Aectum to Deidonum (“God’s Gift,” the modern Dundee) because he had been snatched from imminent death and brought their safely. He did not hesitate in building a church consecrated to the holy Virgin on the tract of land called the Wheat Field, and made it the parish church. Dundee was thenceforth considered to have the Virgin as its patroness, although many of its townsmen continued to worship St. Clement, the patron saint of the previous Alectum, and made their pious prayers at is very ancient church.
29. When King William first received the news that his brother David had returned in safely and, as it were, had come back to life after he had thought him dead for such a long time, he could scarcely contain himself for joy and came to meet his brother at Dundee as quickly as he could. He embraced him in his arms, kissed him, and stood as if stupefied by joy. Finally, when his ardor had abated a little, he said, “I thank you, our heavenly Father and untarnished Virgin, because You have willed that this man whom we have missed for so long should return to us safe in sound, whom You have brought him back to us after having won such great glory from the infidels, and endured extreme dangers, imprisonment, and storms.” Then he proclaimed that many supplications and holidays should be observed throughout the realm. He convened a parliament of the nations’ nobility and permitted his brother David to build a monastery at the place of his choosing, and endow it with whatever lands he desired. And the king also conferred many privileges on Deidonum, which its townsmen enjoy even in our times. Not disdaining his brother’s generosity, David founded an abbey in Fife dedicated to our holy Virgin (it is commonly called Lindores), endowed with ample revenues. From the time of its foundation, it has been occupied by monks of the Bendictine Order, notable for the innocence of their manners, and also famed for a certain miracle. For in that place no man has ever been seen to be harmed by a snake. They are located in the middle of a valley surrounded by a river and hedged in by forest land on every side, and so a great number of snakes always gather there, in numbers seen nowhere else in Scotland. I myself have seen a young man stumble into the midst of a nest of snakes and get away untouched and unharmed.
30. Meanwhile Richard was freed and returned to his kingdom, having been ransomed by a great sum of his subjects’ tax money and a great portion of the sacred vessels of his churches, collected for the purpose. On his arrival, he was not received with any single honor, for everybody strove to outdo each other. His brother John, to whom the care of the realm had been entrusted, was accused of having attempted to usurp the throne, but cleared himself of the charge in a public meeting. When William learned that Richard had returned to his kingdom, he took his brother David and went to London to congratulate him, bringing with him two thousand marks which he said he was giving to Richard as a free gift, for he was not unaware how he had spent all the money he could gather on the Crusade, and subsequently had to redeem himself at great expense. Thanks to this kindness, the two kings became the closest friends of all mankind. Some turmoil persisted in England. For a rumor was in circulation to the effect that certain men had conspired against their king. Those upon whom the suspicion fell were arrested, but when the accusations were discovered to be false, everything subsided into tranquility. After that, while in England William fell ill of a serious disease and took to his bed. And, as as usually done by those who have already been dreaming of rebellion, a false rumor of his death was spread abroad in Scotland. They strove to turn everything topsy-turvy: some plied their trade of plundering, others murdered their enemies, mindful of their former license, and raged through all things like madmen, doing violence to anyone who stood in their way. In the end, imagining that justice had died together with the king, they acted as they pleased and left nothing undone. But when a more definite rumor arrived that the king was alive reached even the farthest corners of Albion, many malefactors rallied to a certain Harald Thane of Caithness and the Orkneys, a felonious fellow, as their leader. The king pursued them to Caithness, captured them all, and ordered that they be dealt with lawfully, so that no innocent men among them be punished along with the guilty, and so that those burdened with great guilt would not receive a lighter punishment than they deserved, by being merely put to death. The leader escaped his punishment for the moment, by escaping to the Hebrides. But not long thereafter he was arrested and brought to the king in Caithness. First his eyes were gouged out (as he himself had done to the Bishop of Caithness) and he was castrated, and then he received his hanging. All the male members of his clan were likewise unmanned by royal decree, so that an end might be put to its criminality within a single generation.
31. There followed a wretched year in Scotland, memorable for its famine. A bushel of barley could scarce be had for five gold crowns. But in the next year, which was the year of Salvation 1199, there was an unheard-of abundance of all things. In that year, William’s firstborn son Alexander was born of Queen Ermingarde, and in the same year King Richard of England died and was succeeded by his brother John. Three years later, William convened a parliament of Scotland’s nobles, where the nobles came together and swore their allegiance his three-year old son Alexander as the future king. At the same time, a papal legate came to William bringing a sword with a gem-encrusted pommel and scabbard, together with a purple cap signifying that he was a Defender of the Faith, as he had wished, and also honored him with many so-called indulgences and privileges. William accepted these with gratitude, and with his parliament’s approval, and decreed that Saturday should be deemed sacred beginning at twelve noon, and that no man should conduct secular business, just as on festal days. This should be signaled to the people by the ringing of a bell, and after that they should attend to holy matters, attend sermons, hear vespers, and continue doing so until Monday. A heavy fine was appointed for those who disregarded this edict.
32. William then went to London to swear homage to John for his English possessions, in the old way. When he arrived there, John wanted him to join in an expedition against King Philippe of France. William refused, because he had a pact with Philippe, and a little later John took an army and ravaged Cumbria and Northumbria. This would have led to a war, had the English nobility not compelled John to return the plunder he had taken. For they did not wish to be engaged in two different wars against such great kings. That year was the winter was so hard that nobody could plough his land before the second half of March. Frozen beer was sold by the point, and it snowed continually for many days, which killed much livestock. A series of earthquakes occurred from the Day of Epiphany until the first of February. After this winter was ended, John, who had finished his French war, searched for a pretext for warring against the Scots, and began to build a castle in Northumbria across from Berwick. William took this amiss, and in the following winter often warned John by his ambassadors not to manufacture a reason for hostilities when he had no just cause and begged him to abandon this project. Then he demolished the castle and razed it to the ground. So John, as if he were indignant at having been insulted, enlisted a very strong army and attacked Scotland. William had foreseen this and raised his own army, and marched to the borderland to meet his enemy. But when the armies stood facing each other, before the signal to fight could be given, at the intervention of nobles a reconciliation was effected.
34. Therefore their armies were dismissed and the two kings and their nobles retired to York, where their old peace and friendship were renewed by a new treaty on these conditions, that nine years thereafter William’s daughters Margaret and Isabella would be married to John’s sons Henry and Richard, with the stipulation that that if the elder daughter should die before that time had passed, she would be replaced by her younger sister. William promised to give a large dowry along with his daughters. The castle which John built ay the Tweed and William demolished would remain destroyed, and never be rebuilt by the English. By way of a guarantee, nine very noble Scottish youths were given to John as hostages. At this same meeting, William ceded the English landholdings to King John of England, concerning which he was John’s vassal, so that John might immediately transfer them to his son Alexander. For such ceremonies were normally performed when you owned some land in vassalage which you wished to resign over to somebody else. No could anyone receive such a heritage without paying homage to his overlord. And so by this arrangement the kings came to an agreement that henceforth the son or heir apparent of the king of Scotland should possess these lands upon making his oath of fealty.
35. At about the time this conference I have described was being held at York, a son and heir was born to certain Yorkshireman, of a most handsome and noble appearance, but he was afflicted with a disease that presented various symptoms. For one of his eyes continually discharged some evil humor, one of his hands was withered, nor could he move his tongue or one of his feet. When the physicians could not make sense out of these symptoms or identify the disease and its causes, they despaired and pronounced him beyond cure. For they had never seen a single cause that produced such different effects. When William approached him and had made the sign of the cross, by his touch alone he restored the child to his former good health. Many men considered this a miracle, since God would not let such a virtue to remain concealed and revealed it for the world’s admiration. The result was that henceforth William was held in high reverence by all men. When he went home, he liberally endowed many holy places, such as Newbottell, Melrose, and the abbey of Saint Cross at Dumfermline, and many others, but particularly the see of Aberdeen, to which he gave a number of estates and lands, as can still be shown today from his documents. He also created Lismore as Scotland’s twelfth diocese, endowing it with lands and estates. A few days after he and a great part of his nobility came to the town of Bertha, the waters of the rivers Tay and Almond, which wash its walls, overflowed to the extent that it demolished a goodly part of those walls and ruined many of its houses, and many men were swept away and drowned. The king himself, together with his wife, children, and noblemen, were not unaffected by the peril. For among the royal family, the king’s son John, still a suckling, died, together with his nurse and twelve women, and also twenty courtiers. The outcries and lamentation in the city almost came to resemble what is heard when a city is sacked.
36. A flood or onrush of water that has overflowed its channel strikes me as an entirely terrible thing, and as a danger more fearful than fire. For fire grows from small beginnings and does not escape men’s notice. Or, if it does, it cannot fail to be detected by many men. It only does its evil work against houses and furniture, and none it all in places with no combustible materia. If men are ready it hand, it can easily be quenched and smothered at its outsef. But nobody can defend against water, which enters houses through open places chinks, when it has once begun to rise, no man can hold it back. You have only one help during a flood, which is watercraft, should they be handy. If they are lackign, men cannot escape the water’s violence by climbing onto rooftops, or going up towers that almost scrape the sky. For an all-consuming flood washes away the ground the foundations of buildings and sweeps everything away with irtself. Instead of what was previously land you often have salt water. And so William, seeing Bertha to be thus ruined, appereciated that it would almost be easier to build a new city than repair the one that had been destroyed and partially replaced by water, so that the appearance of the city was destroyed, moved it elsewhere and founded a new one called Perth, named after a nobleman of that name who made a free gift of the land where it was to be built. The king bestowed many privileges and lands on it, so that it might quickly grow and expand. Now it is called St. Johnstoun. These things occurred in the year of Christ’s birth 1210.
37. In the following year John subjugated the better part of Ireland, and Wales a year thereafter. At that time, another uprising erupted in Caithness. For Gothred the son of Macwilliam, whose rebellion I have already described, made frequent depredations against Ross and its neighbors, creating great damage. His army was daily increased by accessions of Hebridians and men of Lochaber. So William enlisted six thousand soldiers, together with the Earls of Fife and Athol, with the Thane of Buchan in command, and sent it to suppress the robbers’ undertakings. A battle was fought, in which they scattered the rest of the their army and captured a gravely wounded Gothred, together with a few others. They rushed him to the king, for if they had not made haste he would not have gotten there alive. And so at his first arrival the king ordered him to be beheaded while still half-living. The other captives were treated to a similar punishment. At the same time, for various reasons a serious disagreement arose between King John of England and Pope Innocent III. For, contrary to canon law, John demanded a tithe of all Church revenues from bishops and priests. He excluded from his see Stephen, the consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury and, proscribing the Prior and monks of Canterbury, confiscated their income and goods. Furthermore, because they had refused to give him three thousand silver marks, he despoiled monasteries of the Cistercian Order of their revenues and robbed their sacred precincts of much of their costly furniture, such as the silver and gold vessels they employed in their services, and likewise whatever valuable icons, and banished a goodly part of the monks.
38. Innocent thought that these things were not only undeserved, but also that they set a bad example. Lest other kings gripped by greed follow suit, he first employed pleasant words and entreaties, begging him not to dare such great crimes against the Church. When John disdained them, he warned him with somewhat heavier and sharper ones. Since even then he did not desist, he resorted to the ultimate remedy, the thunderbolt of excommunication, and, as they say, placed the kingdom of England under an interdict, forbidding the Sacraments to be publicly performed throughout the land. And so, because of his persistent contumacy, with all the authority at his disposal he deprived John of his crown, all of which things were so far from restraining him that they had the opposite effect of provoking him into being all-daring. And so Innocent rallied all the kings of Christendom, what they call the secular arm, against this common enemy of Christ’s Church. When John saw he was not the equal of all those kings attacking him once, even if he had previously been in the habit of saying that the pope’s lightning had not even scorched his skin, he repented his deeds and begged for absolution, and to atone for his guilt he surrendered the kingdoms of England and Ireland to Innocent and his successors in the papacy, with the stipulation that he and his successors would pay the pope seven thousand silver marks a year for England, and three thousand for Ireland. To this day the English and Irish pay this fee to Rome.
39. When this composition had been made with Pandolph, the pope’s deacon and legate at that time, John was absolved of excommunication and the England was relieved of its interdiction. A little thereafter, William, worn out with age (for he had lived for seventy-four years), a man most renowned both for his government and for the great sanctity of his life, who even performed miracles during his lifetime (a rare thing in those days), died at Sterling in the year of Christ 1214, the forty-ninth of his reign. He was buried in the chapel of Arbroath, in the choir before the high altar. In March of the year he died two comets were seen, fearful to human eyes, one going before the sun and the other after it. In the following year, a cow in Northumbria gave birth to a monster with the head and neck of a cow, and the rest resembling a dark horse. In the autumn two moons were seen hanging separately in the sky, both with two horns. The distinguished men who lived in William’s time were Dominic, a Spaniard who lived for a while as a Benedictine, then quit that order and was the first founder of the Order of Preachers, who are still called Dominicans. Also Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Minorite Order, and today the world is full of their companies and colleges. There also lived the abbot Joachim of Calabria, a man of wonderful sanctity who wrote excellent commentaries on Revelation and the Prophets, and likewise Archbishop Rudolf of Cologne, who transferred the bodies of the three Magi, otherwise known as the Three Kings to Cologne. They were once brought from Persia to Constantinople, and thence to Milan, and he did this after that city had been sacked by the Emperor Frederick. There they are held in great veneration.
40. In France there lived Peter Comestor, who wrote a history of Church. And among our own countrymen, Udard, a monk of Coupar Angus, the Bishop of Brechin, and Abbot Eustathius of Abroath, who succeeded each other in the work of preaching: for, accompanied by a few clergymen, they traveled throughout Scotland on foot spreading the Word of the Lord. The abbey called Balmerino, which houses monks of the Cistercian Order, was founded in William’s lifetime, and after his death was endowed with ample revenues by Queen Ermengarde. Eight years prior to William’s death the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Ransom of Captives was founded and confirmed at Rome by Pope Innocent III, in the year of Man’s Salvation 1211, which was the forty-sixth of William’s reign. In that year two monks of that order were sent to Scotland by Innocent, who had consecrated them, and William donated to them his palace at Aberdeen, with a small amount of revenues, so they might found a friary there, but promised to give more if it managed to survive. Even now that monastery exists, holding no small place among our religious establishments.
41. Next, William’s son Alexander, the second king of that name, chosen to succeed his dead father, came to Scone in the company of a great number of nobles, where, after the tradition of our ancient kings, he received the helm of state while seated on the stone chair, when the crown was set upon his head. This done, he devoted two weeks to his father’s funeral rites at Arbroath, omitting nothing pertaining to royal estate and honor. Afterwards it was proclaimed throughout Scotland that no games or great feasts should be celebrated that year, so that no man would go without his share of mourning. In all churches solemn memorial services and supplications were to be performed. The king himself and all his household wore nothing but mourning-clothes for an entire year. He held his first parliament at Edinburgh, where his father’s acts were first ratified, and then he proclaimed that whatever man had received an appointment from his father was to be confirmed in his office. He expressly named Chancellor William a Bosco Bishop of Dunblane and Constable Alan of Galloway (this office is the chief magistrate after the king, with the power to hear capital charges, if someone has shed blood by violence within two miles of the king’s person) as men he wished to retain. When the parliament was concluded, since his widowed mother had decided to spend the remainder of her life where St. Margaret had once lived, Alexander bestowed on her the little town of Forfar and its fields, pastures, lochs and many other things to delight her mind, which would provide her with an income adequate for a queen mother. He next commanded the best of men be chosen as judges in every city of Scotland to resolve all quarrels by applying the law. He furthermore sent two ambassadors to Rome for the sake of pledging his fealty.
42. At this time, in England there arose a great quarrel and disturbance between the lords of the realm and King John. John was a man of many vices, but the source and inspiration of nearly all of them was his avarice. For he disdained all human and divine things from which he could squeeze no profit. The lawful heir of his father, mother, or any other deceased person, could not succeed to that person’s goods unless he redeemed them from the king for a fee proportionate to the value of the heritage. He disposed the hands of the daughters of noble families, not according to their parents’ wishes, but at his own whim, having first accepted money. He extracted annual pensions from bishops and abbots, just as he was accustomed to do concerning the lands of laymen, if they owed him any kind of service. If any bishop or abbot should die, he immediately appropriated that man’s income for his own use until a successor had been elected and consecrated. And he did a large number of other unworthy, intolerable things. When they could no longer stand this, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with many earls who placed themselves at the head of the rebellion confronted the king. They received such support from King Philippe of France and Alexander King of Scots that, should their endeavors not succeed at the very outset, or if they proved no match for their enemy, those kings promised to come to England with their armies to assist them. Learning this, John grew fearful for himself, and, in order to avoid the impending danger, he promised on his public oath that he would henceforth refrain from all those evils, and would henceforth renounce all his depraved habits, and do nothing pertaining to the commonwealth without the consent of Parliament. So that these promises could later be proven, he signed a document and deposited it with his chancellor.
43. But his unquiet mind, blinded by avarice, could not let what he regarded as an insult long go unavenged. By means of his ambassadors, he sent a huge amount of money to a certain cardinal named Guala at Rome, a vicious gentleman who had the ear of the pope (for many men at Rome were very eager for money, in accordance with their traditional greed). By means of Guala he complained to Innocent about the violence of his subjects and of the Kings of France and Scotland, because they refused to let him govern his own subjects. He said that everything he had done was for his subjects’ advantage, but they were disobedient ingrates who had tried to mix heaven and earth together, and confuse Scotland and France with England. Hearing these things, Innocent grew indignant, since he was highly favorable to the king of England because of the payment he had been receiving for the past seven years, and because he regarded himself as, in a sense, the master of England, so he replied to the ambassadors that he would champion John’s cause and take him under his protection. At this time there were quite a number of men quite addicted to avarice in the papal court, and hence they dared do everything in the pope’s presence which they hoped would turn a profit and, insofar as they could, ensured that everything was available for sale. Among these was a certain Cardinal Guala, who easily surpassed the rest in his audacity as well as in the rest of his vices. He was a man who did nothing save what was profitable. It is worth our while to observe the poverty, piety, and justice of the Church Fathers, who these rascals imitated in name only. Their enthusiasm was to teach, and by their words and examples to bring all men, rich and poor alike, into Christ’s sheepfold. They did not wear gold, gems, or precious clothing, they did not thrust themselves into royal courts, they did not have crowds of henchmen and Thracian bodyguards surrounding them, they did not attempt to surpass royal splendor with all manner of luxury, they did not achieve anything pretense, but rather they acted with truth and acted in the open, doing nothing they would be ashamed to relate. But, quite to the contrary, bishops of this stripe, from the time that wealth became an honorable thing, how different from those ones these are! What a different path they walk! How they fail to follow in the footsteps of the men whose place they occupy!
44. And so, not long thereafter, John, heartened by Guala’s promises, John began to act contrary to his agreement and sworn oath, and vexed both the people and the clergy with his habitual exactions, exercised his tyranny over all men, but most of all over the nobility, and would do anything as long as it fetched a great amount of money. Before long, the peers could no longer tolerate his oppressions, crimes, and powerful domination, and summoned Louis, the eldest son of King Philippe of France, together with Alexander King of Scots, to come with their armies. Louis and his forces were the first to arrive, and, since John was avoiding a battle, challenged him to fight. He, having no trust in his people (for he had wronged everyone) retreated into his safest strongholds. Therefore Louis and his army met no resistance and came as far as London, where they were greeted with the joy and cheering of all its citizens. From there he sent a letter to John warning him that, if he desired peace with himself and with his subjects, he should henceforth abstain from the outrages he had inflicted on all men, by which he had been made a great object of loathing to his subjects. He should make good his damages and repay what he had unjustly exacted, and observe his oath. And, so that he might do this without fraud, he should hand over his son, together with a certain number of kinsmen and familiars. Placing all his trust in Guala and his money, Joh n paid no heed to any conditions, and kept saying that not for long would they continue to insult him unavenged. Hearing this, Louis decided to attack him with a combined French-English army, thinking it vain to dash about England, to the great detriment of its people, and devastate its unoffending countryside and towns, while the man who deserved to have all the misfortune befall himself, being the chief source of all those evils, looked on, hateful and unpunished, and possibly would be so far from being troubled by the devastation of his land that he would even rejoice at seeing those who could not endure his moderate exactions being despoiled of nearly all their fortunes by his enemy.
45. Meanwhile when Alexander King of Scots learned that Louis was active in England, he assembled an army and marched through the middle of England, doing harm no no man, as if he were passing through a peaceful land rather than one at war, and joined Louis at London. His arrival created a short hiatus. For after exchanging congratulations and a lengthy conversation about their two realms, before they began their undertakings they chose to leave their armies behind in England and cross over to France with only ten ships and visit Philippe for the purpose of renewing the ancient league of the French and Scottish. They went to Dover, where they left behind their armies with a large company of nobles and set sail. When they had crossed, Philippe quickly meet them at Boulogne, where they renewed their pact and went back. To the old pact these new features were added: neither would received the other’s enemies or exiles into his realm, nor accept someone from some other country without the agreement of the other. If the king of England should attack either one, the other would provide assistance by invading hostile territory from some other quarter. Meanwhile, when Alexander and Louis had come back to London, John had died, more of chagrin than any malady. Some say that he was secretly poisoned by a monk whose abbey he had intended to destroy. After John’s death, a debate arose among the English lords whether John’s royal line should be allowed to continue or be ended. The majority view (which often prevails over the better one) carried the day, and allowed his son Henry to succeed him. And so, since the reason for which they had undertaken this war was now removed, Alexander thought he had no need to linger in England and led his army back to Scotland, But while they were on their way and a carefree Alexander was leading them in a state of disarray, some Englishmen attacked the Scots, cutting off and killing a number of them who had strayed away from their ranks. From then on, Alexander did not keep his army in such a peaceful and relaxed condition, but rather scoured some fields and collected an ample plunder of cattle and other property, to the great good cheer of the army, and so he brought them home.
46. While these things were transpiring in England, Innocent III, of whom I have spoken a little earlier, convened a general council at Rome, attended by five hundred and twelve bishops and and over eighty abbots. In this counsel, the behest of Cardinal Guala, his legate to England, Innocent excommunicated each and every one of King John’s enemies, and most especially Louis Dauphin of France and Alexander King of Scots, together with all their companions and followers. He did to the same to all the barons and bishops who had opposed John’s will and joined themselves to Louis, accusing them of seeking to appropriate the property of the Church of Rome, since England belonged to the pope and in a certain sense was his property. Therefore as soon as Guala set foot on English soil, he immediately crowned John’s son Henry. Then he excommunicated John’s so-called enemies by name, and forbade them to enter consecrated places. When Louis perceived that the better part of England was siding with Guala and Henry, he made his peace with them. Paying a fee to the legate for his absolution, he departed for France. But Guala did not receive the peers and prelates of England back into his good graces before they paid out a huge sum of money. For his habit was to turn a profit on everything, be it honorable or dishonorable. After this King Henry of England assembled as large an army as he could and invaded Scotland for the sake of harrying it. Great slaughter was worked everywhere, as he ravaged wherever he went. But when he heard that Alexander was making preparations for war, his main concern at the time, he beat a speedy retreat, fearing lest, should he linger, he would be overwhelmed by Alexander’s sudden arrival. But afterwards Alexander was no more behindhand in enlisting soldiers, amassing grain, and assembling a baggage train. And so, abundantly outfitted with all necessities, he stormed the castles in Northumbria garrisoned by the English, and after taking them he pulled them down. Then he led his army to lay siege to the town of Carlile. Gaining its surrender with no difficulty, he permitted its garrison to make an honorable departure. After their departure, he installed a very strong one of his own.
47. When he had besieged Norham a little while and there was no visible hope of his taking it, he brought his army back to Scotland and disbanded it. When Henry saw Alexander had dismissed his forces, he collected a large number of soldiers and, as if springing from ambush, attacked Scotland, taking Berwick and its castle. Then, at a great cost in human life, he filled the Scottish coastline with arson and murder, going as far as Haddington. He killed all men of fighting age he met, save for priests, taking no man alive. But since he could not take the well-defended Castle Dunbar at the first assault, he returned to England with his army. And Guala, whose avarice I have already mentioned, fastened on the opportunity to filch some money from Scotland. So he placed Scotland under an interdict and assaulted Alexander with the ultimate thunderbolt of excommunication because (as he claimed) he had wasted English territory with his army and not kept his hands off holy Church lands. When it appeared that this matter was destined to take a great turn for the worse, if the Scots and English warred against each other at full strength (as they were preparing to do), the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Salisbury, prudent and pious men, together with others of the same kind, went to King Alexander to make peace between them both, and by their efforts and entreaties a peace was arranged on the condition that King Alexander would withdraw his garrison and return Carlile, together with all else he had taken in Northumbria, save for its castles. He would receive the income and annual revenues of Northumbria as far as the so-called Recross, and would retain dominion over Cumbria with the assent of King Henry and the elders of England. Henry for his part would return to Alexander Berwick and its castle, and Alexander would be absolved of Guala’s excommunication.
48. When peace had been made between them, the aforesaid prelates, as authorized by Guala, went to Berwick, absolved Alexander and his kingdom of the interdiction, and did the same for the rest of his nobility. But, so that he would not go home with empty pockets after having wasted all his effort, he commanded all archbishops and bishops of the Church over whom he imagined he had some authority (by which I mean all those who did not take up arms in self-defense) to appear before him at Anwick, and would not let them go until each one ransomed himself for a great sum proportionate to his resources. Those had a taste for peace and quiet rather than strife satisfied him, but others thought it unworthy, and not without criminality, for holy things to be put up for sale so openly (as they interpreted it), and refused to give anything, since they were blameless and had suffered punishment enough for sharing their nation’s great evils over such a long time. Guala commanded them to go to Rome, thinking that they would be cowed by the long journey and eventually give him something. But they were incensed by the indignity of the thing, and so were undaunted by anything. When they arrived at Rome they made serious accusations against the absent Guala before Innocent, and letters were daily written to him by prelates and abbots of both England Scotland containing great complaints concerning Guala’s avarice. Alarmed by these things, the pope recalled him to Rome to hear him plead his case in person. When he had arrived, a council was held, with the pope sitting as its president, and one of those who had been compelled to go to Rome to gain absolution, speaking on behalf of them all, began to relate all the things done avariciously and feloniously by the legate Guala from the time of his first arrival in England. For first, after have absolved from excommunication all of John’s enemies, he had extracted a great sum of money from bishops and the higher clergy; then, in his presence, Henry had broken the peace to which he had agreed a little earlier, and waged war against the Scots, in such a way that the war could seem to have been started by Henry; and then Alexander defended himself and repaid Henry tit for tat, and again when he was once more harried by Henry, Guala once more condemned him with his dire curses and placed all Scotland under an interdict.
49. The result had been that nearly all of England Scotland were ablaze with a great war. When this was abated by the intervention of some very holy men on both sides, and when the king and his nobles had been granted absolution, he had exercised his power over helpless men, although they were blameless and ignorant everything, by committing these final acts, in disregard of the reason he had been sent on his errand. When Guala was unable to clear himself, he was fined by Innocent as he saw fit, and gave his own absolution to those who had come to Rome to obtain it. Meanwhile David Earl of Huntingdon, the brother of the late King William, whom I have mentioned in connection with the Jerusalem Crusade, died, a man most noble both in war in peace. He was buried in the English abbey of Sawtrey. When King Henry of England had grown from boyhood to that age of maturity when we begin to display wisdom, he proved to be more of a lover of peace than war, and, in the presence of the papal legate Pandulph, met with King Alexander at York to discuss peace. When this had been accomplished, they strove to cement it by those strongest of bonds, friendship and kinship. Henry had a sister named Joan, barely of marriageable age, and he affianced her to Alexander. Alexander for his part undertook to bestow his sisters on suitable Englishmen. This demonstration was made in the year of Christ 1220, in which year the remains of St. Thomas of Canterbury were translated to Trinity Chapel with great reverence, in the presence of King Henry, the bishops of England, and a great part of the nobility.
50. The following year a certain Cardinal Aegidius was sent as legate by Pope Innocent’s successor Honorius, to collect money to help subsidize a new Crusade to the Holy Land. He received no small amount from the laity and clergy, and after squandering it on his homeward journey he invented a tale that he had been despoiled by robbers, and so returned to Rome with an empty wallet. A few days after his return, another legate was sent to Scotland for the same purpose. Alexander thought he should first consult with his subjects, and so convened a parliament. Therefore one of his bishops, greatly opposed to the avarice of Roman legates, spoke his mind against them in this way. “Although many considerations deter me from freely speaking in public on matters concerning the commonwealth, excellent king, when I reflect on what is being said or done for its sake in this parliament, I cannot help but take up the people’s cause by speaking the truth, and condemning the tyranny these legates have foully exercised over us for these last few years. For even if tyranny is insufferable when exercised by a man who has received the crown as his paternal heritage, it is far less tolerable when it is done by our servants or base-born men who usurp our power and rage and run riot against us, men to whom we ought to be a terror. Had the evils which this realm has suffered over these years, even though it has been an undeserved misery for us, had been inflicted by the pope, I would think we ought to endure it as best we could. But since it is low-down men who have made their fortunes by felony, having no such mandate from the pope, and have again and again savaged us with penalties which are not merely sacred ones, and have greedily turned a profit on the high holy things we have inherited from our forefathers, who does not think that these things are undeserved and require revenge, especially since they make no end of it, and in their arrogance hold our simple modesty in great contempt?
51. “In these last few years you have quietly kept your indignation to yourselves, even if some of you have gone to the pope to complain about Guala’s wrongdoing and avarice. For he did not rest content with unjustly debarring you from all holy things and placiong you under an interdict, but has compelled those of you without the power to resist his great authority (which in his case was an onus rather than an honor) to buy your way out of his interdict and excommunication. I shall not speak of the sure conjectures that he was responsible for starting the recent war, and the fact that he, who was sent here for the sake of concord, brought both our kingdoms into extreme jeopardy. For I know these are familiar things to you, so why repeat them to my own extreme sorrow and yours as well? And another fellow of the same stripe turned up a few months after his departure, a man in no wise Guala’s better (although who could have been worse?) He was sent here from the pope in the most just and pious cause of obtaining some money from us to ransom Christians held captive and subjected to the most wretched servitude and very undeserved mistreatment by the Saracens, who ought rather to be suffering the same themselves, and he collected a great sum thanks to the liberality of our people (for our pious people regarded those whom Christ redeemed with His blood and who had received baptism to be no less their kinsmen and the object of their affections than those with whom they had shared several months in the same womb and had shared the same parents). Then this most bold-faced of men squandered all that money catering to his extreme ambition and luxury, even in our sight, and the liar had no compunction to invent a fictitious crime to cover up his misdeeds and be compelled to make good that treasure, which he did not spend, but rather devoured. If you have experienced two such men to your misfortune, are you reduced to that point of folly that you will place your trust in yet a third? Will you imagine that he is better than the others, and that he should expect to be treated with more honors than his predecessors? Someone will ask me what I think we should do. I do not only think he should be refused admission to our realm, when our people are objecting and our kingdom is drained dry, but that in the future no one else should be allowed in either. For since what has been given has once been frittered away by those who should have used it and taken care of it, we have no obligation to stumble into the same pitfall a second time. If anything is left for you or for our entire kingdom, I do not think it would be ill spent if it were distributed to the poor, of whom we have no small number.”
52. When his words were met with the extreme approval of the king and the others there present, the legate was not admitted into the kingdom. Then marriages were celebrated between Alexander King of Scots and Joan, the sister of King Henry of England, and between Hubert, the Lord Chief Justice of England and King Alexander’s sister Margaret. These marriages set the seal on peace with the English. This peace with foreigners was followed by a civil war. Its leader was a certain man of Ross named Gillespie. Having murdered some men, he was joined by partners in his scurvy way of life and, although they denied they were going to do anything against the royal majesty, took and burned the town of Inverness, among others, and wasted royal manors everywhere. John Comyn Earl of Buchan was sent against him with an army composed of many foot soldiers. Although Gillespie hid himself in many steep and drought places, in the end Comyn caught and beheaded him. He dealt likewise with his two sons, and sent their heads to the king. After this rising had been put down, the men of Caithness administered a whipping to their bishop, whose name was Adam, foully murdered him, and burned him in his own oven, since he chanced to demand the traditional tithe from them and cursed them when they refused to pay. When this felony came to Alexander’s ears at a time when he was at Jedburgh, he assembled a small force and immediately departed. He soon arrested the men responsible for the crime and executed them all. Then he gelded all the sons of those men still in their boyhood (for those of fighting age had suffered the same fate as their father), lest the progeny of bad men might live on and multiply. Definite proof of this is that the name where their testicles were thrown exists down to this day, attesting to the thing, for it is called The Hill of Stones. And because the Earl of Caithness had not come to Adam’s aid when he requested help, nor punished his murderers after his death, he deprived him of his office.
53. When the pope heard of Alexander’s care and iligence in punishing those miscreants, he praised him by means of his legate. When he returend from England with his second sister Isabelle, King Alexander heard that Aberdeen had already been granted privileges and lands by Gregory, Malcolm II, and William’ brother David, so he too decorated it with many privileges. Receiving from the pope a charter of privileges, he gave them for safekeeping to the his venerable Keeper of the Rolls, the Bishop Gilbert, who had succeeded the murdered Bishop Adam or Ada of Caithness, cruelly murdered by his subjects, as I have shown. Three years later, when Alexander and his morther Ermengarde was celebrating the feast of Christ’s Nativity for several days (as is the Scottish custom) and was making good cheer, the Earl of Caithness took the opportunity to approach him humbly and beg his pardon for the murder of Adam, something of which he said he was innocent, although he had been accused of it. Alexander laid aside his servity and restored him to his erstwhile fortune, although not before he had fined him of a large some. But God did not allow this impunity conferred by Man to go unpunished. For a few years later, because he handled them more roughly than was reasonable, his servants murdered him in the night while he lay abed and burned down his house so their crime would remain undetected. So it might seem that it an act of divine interveniton that he perished by the same form of death as had Bishop Adam, albeit a few laters, for he had undoubtedly had a hand in this murder. A few years after these things had been done, there arrived in Scotland some men noble for their sanctity, sent by St. Dominic. For they say that when Alexander went to Philippe in France to renew their treaty, he chanced to meet Dominic and ardently entreated him to send some of the holy men he had with him to Scotland to instruct his people. When this was done, they were held in the greatest honor by Alexander, and were either given houses in which to dwell, or new ones were built. Therefore those men, being ordained by that right holy man, led an entirely sanctified life.
54. But since we see nearly all things — I know not why — start with fine beginnings and then take a turn for the worse, when these men had died, gradually their successors deteriorated from their austere manner of life into virtually every kind of luxury. Therefore, after a space of nearly three hundred years, in our own time John Adam, our first graduate in theology here at Aberdeen, a man distinguished for his piety and learning, returned the monastery’s way of life to its original condition, abolishing its vices. Then, after a number of years had passed after the events I have described, the Minorite was sent all over the world by Francis, even into Scotland. But they too abandoned the manner of life they had learned from that most holy man, and many of them have lived in a less holy manner down to our very own day, in which we are granted to see nearly everywhere, and especially among ourselves, men of that Order devoted to true religion, who, thanks to pious exertions, have been returned to the ancient ways of the holy Fathers.
55. But I must return to my history. A lengthy peace then obtained, until the death of that most just administrator of his duties, Alan, the lord of Galloway and constable. He left behind three married daughters, and bequeathed them equal shares of Galloway. He also had a bastard son, but, since he was born of a mistress, his father let him remain a private subject. Puffed up by the empty promises of certain factious noblemen, he assumed the title of Lord of Galloway and harried those Galloway men who failed to pay him deference, together with neighboring peoples. Now then thousand men had come a-flocking to his standard and he was inspired to greater things by his prosperity, when Earl Patrick Dunbar of Merch, Walter Stewart, and Dundonald, sent by King Alexander with an army of horse and foot, defeated him in a hot and bloody battle. Five thousand enemy were slain, including their leader, and the rest were either captured or banished the realm. The king appointed Roger Quincy, the husband of Alan’s eldest daughter, constable, a royal office he occupied down to the time of King Robert. For at that time his clan was destroyed for an act of treason, and Hay of Errol took his place.
56. After this uprising had been put down, it was reported to Alexander that King Henry of England was quarreling with his nobility. Hearing of these things, Alexander quickly set off to England in the company of his wife Joan and his daughter Isabelle, to see if he could effect a reconciliation. He traveled with haste, save for turning aside to Canterbury to visit the remains of St. Thomas for piety’s sake. Peace was soon restored, when King Henry consented to let the English abide in their customary liberty. Then the marriage of Isabelle to the Earl of Norfolk was celebrated at London, with King Alexander giving away the bride. A few days after the wedding, Alexander’s wife Joan succumbed to a protracted cancer of the womb, dying childless. After these things had transpired, Alexander returned to Scotland. In the second year after his return, which was the year of Christ’s Birth 1239, since he had no sons, at Roxburgh he took a second wife named Marie, the daughter of a certain nobleman named Enguerrand, Count of Coucy. A male child was soon born of that union, and was given the name Alexander. In that same year, Henry suppressed a Welsh rebellion and put its ringleaders to death. And John Comyn Earl of Angus was sent by Alexander to King Louis of France, but died before finishing his legation. Then Alexander took his wife Marie and made a progress throughout Scotland. When they had come to Haddington, Earl Patrick of Athol was murdered at night in his quarters, and the the house was burned down. The perpetrators of that crime are not known, although grave suspicion fell on two men, John Bissart and his uncle Walter. Since their guilt could not be proven, they were deprived of their fortunes and banished, but their lives were spared.
57. Then a synod of bishops was held at Perth (the town is now called St. Johnstoun, as I have indicated above), in the presence of the king. In that synod a number of provincial ordinances were enacted with the approval of the king and the nobles of the realm, which are still observed in our church. At about this time, Thane Summerled of Argyll, the son of the previous Summerled whom I have written above to have been hanged by Malcolm after his second rebellion, chose to walk in his father’s footsteps, rebelled against the king, and befouled Argyll’s neighbors with his great depredations. But he was defeated by the Earl of Merch and surrendered, on condition that he come to the king with a noose around his neck, and when he had done so, he was pardoned by Alexander. At this time there were certain men at the court of King Henry of England who preferred war to piece, and who thought that virtue grows weak amidst protracted idleness. These factious fellows trusted that in war they would find impunity for their crimes and also turn a profit: this is the greatest source of ruin for other men, for in times of war, justice and the laws fall mute. With their vain talk and promises they sought to fire the king’s mind for a war against Scotland. Since he would never break his word, he finally discovered a way to violate the pact. He began to construct the castle built on the bank of the Tweed which I have said to have been started by King Richard of England and demolished by William, which had never been rebuilt in accordance with their subsequent agreement. This indeed would have been a call to arms, had not the English peerage, being prudent men with a liking for peace and justice, rebuked King Henry and reminded him that this was expressly forbidden by the peace and treaty made between William and Richard. And so the fire of that war was extinguished.
58. A few days later, there arrived in Scotland ambassadors from King Louis of France, requesting help for a Crusade to Judea where they would war against the enemies of faith, and the Scots sent them back with some choice and ready companies under three commanders, Patrick Earl of Merch, David Lindsey of Glenesk, and Walter Stuart of Dundonald, men famed for their prudence and martial skill. After they had gone to Egypt with Louis, nearly all of them perished, some by steel and others by the plague. Nor did Alexander live long thereafter. He fell gravely ill on Carna, which lies not far off the Argyll mainland, and died soon thereafter, in the fifty-first year of his life, which was the thirty-fifth of his reign and the year of our salvation 1249. As he had wished in life, his body was taken for burial at Melrose. In his lifetime there lived men distinguished for their learning and sanctity of life: Cardinal Hugh of the Order of Preachers, who wrote learned commentaries on the Catholic Bible, and also Gilbert Bishop of Caithness, later canonized. Some record that St. Duthac, a very holy bishop, lived during the reign of Alexander II, and maintain that he was Gilbert’s teacher, although others say he lived a long time before. Whatever the truth may be, he certainly was most praiseworthy, and particularly acceptable in the sight of God and Man, as can easily be seen from the miracles he has performed both during his life and in death, down to our very day. His relics are held in great reverence in Ross, where he was buried.
59. At the death of Alexander II, before his son Alexander, the third of that name, was accept as king, a considerable debate and quarrel broke out among the nobility, but did not prevent him from attaining to his father’s throne. Some asserted that the stars (which were often consulted in those days) were opposed to his creation as king, and others objected that he had not yet been knighted, and hence was debarred from ruling. If the Earl of Fife had not shown his disdain for such superstitions and escorted the boy to the Stone of Destiny, where he was first anointed in accordance with ancestral custom, and then crowned, the parliament would have dragged on an taken a violent turn. When he had been declared king and the coronation rites had been performed, a nobly-born highlander recited from memory a genealogy he had constructed of all the kings of Scotland from their original founder Gathelus down to his father. At the advice of his tutors, Alexander sent him home amply rewarded. When he succeeded his father, he was nine years old, so his governors were very anxious lest his youthful age would be a source of contempt so that the kingdom would suffer attacks from all quarters. So they quickly sent ambassadors to King Henry of England in their king’s name, for the sake of renewing their treaty. If they obtained this, they were to add that their king Alexander requested the hand of Henry’s daughter in marriage. To all these things Henry gave his assent.
60. In the second year of his reign, Alexander convened a parliament of all the realm’s abbots, bishops and barons at Dumfermline, where, after many rites had been performed, the bones of his great-grandmother Margaret, now canonized, were buried in a silver coffin decorated with many gems. When, by agreement of all the bishops, they tried to carry it into the sanctuary of the chapel, and they were passing by the tomb of her husband Malcolm, suddenly they were all frozen in their tracks. When set down at Malcolm’s tomb, the coffin containing her remains stuck fast to it and could not be budged by any amount of force. All present were amazed by the miracle, and when they could not discover the reason for such a strange thing, an old man, speaking with divine inspiration, raised his voice so they could all hear him, and said, “Don’t deny Margaret to her husband now that he is dead, for he always revered her in his lifetime. This is why she refuses to be carried into the sanctuary by your hands until Malcolm is set at her side.” When this was done by royal command then she and her husband were carried into the sanctuary, where down to this very day they are both held in great reverence by the people.
61. In this same year King Louis of France was captured by King Sultan while fighting Christ’s enemies in Egypt. As long as Alexander was a child, the kingdom was governed with great moderation by excellent men chosen for that purpose. But a few year later later, when he wanted to protect his people from wrongdoing and see reparations made for those which had been committed, he summoned to their trials Walter Earl of Menteith, together with the Earl of Athol, the Earl of Buchan, the Master of Strathbogie, all the men of the Comyn clan, and also Hugh Abernethy and many of their accomplices, by whom the people had long been troubled. When they failed to make their appearance and learned that they had been declared public enemies by the king, they invaded the royal household at night (the king was then staying at Kinross), captured the king himself, and took him to Sterling. Then they proceeded to commit greater wrongs than ever against the people, doing everything they pleased without fear, since the man who could prevent them was their captive. At that time the Comyn clan was exceedingly powerful for its wealth and numbers, since, in addition to its many earls, it boasted thirty-two knights, all of the same surname. But Walter Comyn Earl of Menteith, the leader of them all, was poisoned by his wife, and the rest begged the king’s pardon and henceforth persisted in their loyalty. Walter’s wife fled to England with her base-born lover, for whose sake she had murdered her husband, stripped of nearly all her fortunes.
62. At about this same time, the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted at Rome by Urban IV, which is celebrated worldwide on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and a small company of Carmelites first came to Scotland and occupied a chapel in a suburb of Perth built for them by the Bishop of Dunkeld. They say that a certain monk of Melrose, acting on information supplied by an angel in a dream, found a cross not far from a small town in Lothian named Peebles, enclosed in a chest with St. Nicholas’ name inscribed thereon. Not far away was discovered an artfully-wrought stone urn containing bones wrapped in linen cloth, but whose they were is unknown. As soon as the cross was discovered, many miracles occurred. Moved by the novelty of this thing and by his religiosity, Alexander built a magnificent church at the place where the cross was found, which now houses monks of the Trinitarian Order.
63. Alexander then went to King Henry of England at York, to take as his wife his daughter Margaret, long since betrothed to him. He was therefore received by Henry with all possible pomp and magnificence, and treated to very costly and lavish Christmas feasts, as is that nation’s custom. Noblemen came a-flocking, both from Scotland along with Alexander and from all of England, to see the marriage of such great personages, and the English king went to great expense in their entertainment. Nothing was lacking which could inspire happiness and joy, and musicians who could delight the mind by making music, either on the psalter or some other kind of instrument, were either summoned or came of their own volition. The palace was filled with a dancing, singing, twanging throng. Some devoted themselves to thinking, some men’s minds turned to eating, there was no sorrow, no anxiety, since wine washed all their cares away. All men were at ease, their minds devoted to the pleasures of eye and belly, as each man did his level best to honor the royal marriage. When the celebrations were through, Alexander and his wife returned to Scotland, attended by a very long train of noblemen. Then, after some time time had passed, both kings and their nobles held a meeting at Wark Castle, for the correction of the faults of both kingdoms, such as were committed by their officials everywhere. Therefore, when those guilty of maladministration had been turned out of others, other replaced them. This how Richard Bishop of Dunkeld was made Alexander’s chancellor, and David Lindesay of Glenesk became his chamberlain, and his butler Alan Durward received the office of justicer.
64. Friction arose between the new and old officials, when the old ones refused to produce an accounting for their handling of money, and the matter appeared to be headed for some kind of violence when Alexander, who detested nothing worse than internal sedition, easily settled the dispute, partly by forgiving some debts and partly by paying them off. At that time, the cathedral church at Glasgow was Finnish, and indeed it was a magnificent structure, no little part of which had been built by its Bishop William by his own generosity, although he did not long survive the completion of this work In the following year nearly all the grain was ruined by a rainy autumn, so that Scotland and England both suffered a great grain-dearth. When this was noticed by King Haakon of Norway, and when he saw that Scotland was particularly hamstring by this domestic evil (and also since, as does happen, rumor exaggerated its importance), he thought he had an exceptionally fine opportunity for doing this thing, and he brought his ships over to the Hebrides filled with a great host of soldiers (since the time of King Edgar those islands had belonged to Norway). Then he made as short and easy a crossing as he could over to Arran and Bute, the only two islands remaining in Scottish hands. Having subjugated their inhabitants and not content with that happy success, he imagined that Fortune would likewise favor him in everything, so he brought his army over into Albion at a point near those islands, immediately besieged and took the castle of Aire. Then he ravaged the country round about with steel and fire.
65. When the balefful news of these developments had been reported, since he had no wish to abandon his subjects, and yet did not believe himself the equal of an enemy made ferocious by so many victories, Alexander thought it best to buy time by diplomacy. So he sent prudent ambassadors, eloquent by the standards of their day, who are said to have gone to Haakon and spoken as follows: “If it were not the custom for our kings and our nation, now as always, not to wage war against any men without first demanding satisfaction and setting forth the reasons for which injuries should be inflicted, you would not be looking at us, but rather would be seeing an enemy army marching against you. For we are convinced that we will bring home no profit on this war even if victorious, with our enemies defeated and plundered, since our lands have already suffered much damage. So if there is a way that restitutions can be made and we can avoid war, it is best for us to stand down at once. For what words can express how foolish it is to attempt to achieve this thing by killing and the sword? But if those things which all men admit to be just are held in contempt by our enemies, and if they prefer war itself to that peace for which men go to war, then we stand ready with our angry minds, and our martial virtue and anger will not abate because of any delay, but rather will be fired all the more. For this reason, we have been sent to you by our king to ask you by what right of yours, or by what provocation of ours, have you broken a peace which we have shared with you for over a century. Why have you come to despoil with cruelty not just those two islands, but also our mainland, making no exception of age or sex in your killing? What great crime have we committed, if not against you, at least against others whose champions you profess to be, that you are so savagely butchering not only children, women, and old men, people whom no tyrant fails to spare, but also sacrilegiously plunder and set fire to the temples of God and His saints, should anyone take refuge in them to save his life? Wherefore, if you have no dread of God, Who in His providence governs we see around us, if you do not dread His saints, whom He loves as much as He does himself and who have boundless influence with Him, if you do not fear revenge or punishment for your crimes, you should at least dread two of the worlds most puissant kings, very closely conjoined by friendship and kindred blood: you could not even withstand the sight of them coming against you, let alone their onslaught. It is therefore our responsibility to beg you make reparations and depart from here while your affairs are still prosperous, rather than, despairing of your fortunes and about to endure the utmost suffering, you be obliged to beg for the same mercy you now deny us.”
66. The delegation’s words on this subject were said with such forthrightness and keen insight that, had it been possible, they should have created some fear in their reckless enemy. For at that time it would have been sufficient if they had taken their plunder and left Scotland. But they were so far from inspiring any fear that Haakon fiercely threatened them with these words, saying, “Do you imagine, ambassadors, that I am so foolishly timid as to be frightened by your bold threatening statements that I would go away merely because of words? You are fools if you believe that. As far as the islands go, and that injury which you exaggerate so greatly, receive my answer: we have no need of your advice or instruction in order to decide what is injurious and what is lawful. If you ask our reason for recovering Arran and Bute, which are islands of the Hebrides, I tell you that belong to our nation and my forefathers by ancient right, and that we have come to reclaim them, which you have unlawfully possessed for such a long time. And we have come to extract from Scotland reparations for the loss we have consequently suffered. Therefore report my words to your king, about whose threats I do not care a fig: if he prefers peace rather than war, if he desires to avoid the ransacking and destruction of this towns, the devastation of his fields, the killing of his subjects, and if he does not want to behold the ruination of his kingdom, he should send us ten thousand silver marks at his earliest convenience, and cede to us the possession of all the Hebrides.”
67. When Alexander had heard these words and seen that war was inevitable, he thought he must put his fortune to the test and gathered as great a force as he could, so that, even if he were unequal to the enemy in strength, he would at least outnumber them. He led forty thousand men, divided into three contingents. The right wing was commanded by Alexander Stewart, a man memorable for his military laurels, and a grandson of that Alexander who had founded and endowed Paisley Abbey. This contained the men of Argyll, Athol, Lennox, and Galloway. The king assigned the left wing to Patrick Dunbar, the son of the earlier Patrick, a young man of great alertness of mind and faithfulness, who had great favor with him. Within it were the men of Lothian, Fife, Merch, Berwick, Sterling, and neighboring districts. The king himself commanded the van, either so it would be the strongest and most numerous, or so that, if the need should arise because one of his wings were endangered, he would have the forces ready to come to its aid in good time. It was composed of the men of Stermund, Angus, Merne, Mar, Moray, Ross, Caithness, and other choice young men of Scotland, who served as Alexander’s bodyguards and protectors of his army. Furthermore, each district’s contingent was commanded by captains well-approved both for their martial virtue and their nobility, who understood the tongue, manners, and characters of their followers.
68. When they entered the district of Cunninghame and were drawing close to their enemies, after they heard Mass, as Christian soldiers do, Alexander thought it best to encourage them before the fight, and so addressed them with words of this kind: “I would have you call to mind what we just now prayed to God, Who sees and directs all mortal affairs, I mean that He should bestow the victory on the side with the better and holier reason for fighting. Thus you will rely on the faith and certain hope you have in Him, Who governs all things Who has never been in habit of giving His support and favor to robbers and plunderers, and attack your enemy fearlessly and with supreme force. For you do not have to deal with the kind of enemy who fight for territory for debatable reasons, in a situation where you might doubt which side has the better cause. Rather, you are fighting men who have taken advantage of the opportunity offered while you are suffering from a dearth of grain, who in their greed have wrongly stolen your islands and, lured on by the delights of thievery, do not rest content with what they have effortlessly appropriated when opposed with no resistance, but have even come into Scotland with the intent of plundering it and, if God so wills, of threatening our lands and our houses. And so, keeping before your eyes not only their unwarranted wrongdoing, but also your own need, you should be mindful that you have in your hands the life and liberty of your nation, your parents, wives, and children. In a single battle it will be decided whether your nation is to fall victim to arson, whether your fathers and children are to be dragged off to wretched servitude by barbarans, and whether your wives and daughters are going to suffer all the unspeakable things that usually occur when barbarians conquer, or whether, thanks to your martial virtue, you are going to drive off your enemy and peacefully enjoy your erstwhile fortune and property.
69. “And so I would have you think, as is in the fact the case, that you are not just defending your own bodies and lives with your weapons, but those of your parents, wives, and children as well. And always think on this: that it is not just myself and the captain of each of your contingents who will be watching you as you fight on their behalf and on your own, but also those you hold most dear, those for whom this fight is undertaken, and indeed all of Scotland who will look and and mark down the true virtue or cowardice of each man. And so, my soldiers, conceive strength and power in your hearts, which befits you far more than it does your enemy, insofar as those who ward off wrongdoing confront greater danger than those who would inflict it, and insofar as you have a more just reason to feel anger and indignation than they do. For they are fighting merely for plunder, since they think the path to it lies by way of your bodies and weaponry, and so will be easily defeated by your steadfastness of mind. You, on the other hand, are fighting in just defense of your liberty, for your saints’ churches, for hearth and home, for all your fortunes, and for the lives of yourselves and your near and dear. Tend to your arms and eat enough to give you the strength to kill, do this as quickly as possible. Then, with God’s help, be as bold as you can be in removing these robbers and men who would plunder our nation.”
70. Thus Alexander to the Scots. On the other side of the field, Haakon thought his men needed to be encouraged so as to be undaunted by the enemies’ number, so he addressed them as follows: “Unless I were already long familiar with your martial virtue, my soldiers, unless a sure victory were within our grasp, I should be vain and foolish in pressing this matter, and I should be striving for uncertain things in place of sure ones. Although you could have continued living in your nation, amidst base unhappiness and eking out the most poverty-stricken of lives with great toil, inasmuch was we have been given the opportunity, you have chosen to live in better hopes and follow me. Behold, your rewards are now spread out before you, now let each man show his virtue. Across from us you see the enemy camp stuffed full of all manner of wealth and treasure, you are beholding the thing for which you have so often hoped. You must cut your way through the middle of your enemy with your swords and spears. Not only the things which are there, great as they are, will be yours if you emerge the victors, but also whatever exists throughout all Scotland, indeed the kingdom itself, if you wish it, if you show yourselves to be the men you are. Once you have overcome the enemy, you may go wherever you want, everything will be at your service, your enemy will freely come to offer it all to you. For once our enemy are routed, I shall be generous in giving you landed estates in wherever you desire as a reward for your virtue, and henceforth you will be as wealthy as you see your enemy to be. They say that great things cannot be accomplished without running risks, so let us see how difficult this war will be for you, since these are strong, fearsome soldiers with whom you will be obliged to compete for glory and riches.
71. “Do you want to know what manner of enemy you have? Men weakened by protracted starvation, used up, half-dead, who have lost their strength and virtue, who will desert before it comes to the hard work. They are not men, they are scarecrows, they are mere shadows of men. So, surely, it will not be hard to knock them to the ground and trample them without effort? Their swords and spears will slip from their hands before they can strike a blow. It is no harder to slaughter a bleating sheep than such a feeble enemy. But people are saying that they outnumber us: so much the more booty for us. But if you suffer misfortune (which may heaven forfend, and when I look at your strength, your youth, and the victories you have gained, my mind cannot be convinced that this is possible), nevertheless, if something should go awry, beware lest you die unavenged, like silly victims at the slaughter, nor look for your rescue in flight. For we are surrounded on all sides: we have the sea to our backs and at both our sides, we have our enemies in front of us. The ships which brought us here are far away, and their cavalry would ride us down before we could reach them. And we have no source of help from elsewhere. So what madness it would to throw down the arms with which you defend yourselves, and seek safety in flight? And so, with such great rewards offered us, but no smaller perils, perils of a sort which make heroes even out of cowards, take care lest your hands grow slow in the fight. And so, with Fortune favoring us, as is within your power to bring about, let me see you made rich and happy by today’s victory.”
72. Both armies began to be drawn up for battle. Haakon arranged his forces with an eye to his enemies’ dispositions, placing all his strength in his center. For he had learned from deserters that the king was stationed in the van, and he thought that if he were to overwhelm him, upon whom the entire Scottish cause depended, he would have defeated them all, something in which he was not mistaken. But he left his wings weak, since he was inferior in numbers. For a while they fought very bitterly all along the line, especially where the kings were engaged. Wherever they saw some part of their forces being oppressed, they would hurry there with lightly-armed soldiers, advising, encouraging, and sometimes rebuking those slow to fight, as they both played the part of a good and vigorous commander. Haakon made frequent attempts to break the opposing battle-line, but to no effect. For in that part of the battlefield Alexander was far superior in numbers and he could withdraw exhausted men and replace them with fresh ones, so that his army remained at full strength. From the beginning of the battle, the fighting conducted on the wings was no less hot. But when the outnumbered Norwegians saw themselves to be outflanked, a retreat began on their left wing. So Alexander Stewart, who was in command on the Scottish right, drove back the Norwegians some distance and killed Haakon’s nephew, a man of authority among the Norwegians second only to the king. Then he sounded the recal, reorganized his men after their scattered pursuit, and led them against the enemy center where Haakon was leaving nothing untried in his attempt to break through the thick enemy center and make his way to Alexander.
73. And so they inflicted great slaughter on the enemy from the rear. Meanwhile the Scotish left wing, commanded by Patrick, suffered great with hardship, since their leader was seriously wounded. But when they saw the Norwegian center put to rout, they recovered their spirits and with great violence drove back the enemy right wing as well. When they were thus routed in all parts, the Scots pursued their enemy throught the middle of Cunninghame. A great slaughter was inflicted, and night put an end to the chase. King Haakon barely got away with a few men. And when he came to Castle Aire, which I have written above to have been captured by him, on the following day he learned of a second catstrophe. For his fleet of one hundred and fifty ships had been destroyed by a storm which raged throughout the night following the battle, and was wrecked on reefs, so that only four ships remained. All the sailors and soldiers who had remained on the lost ships were killed by the locals. Having suffered a diouble blow, Haakon took those four ships and sailed around the northern tip of Scotland until he reached the Orknews. In that battle, in addition to those killed in the shipwreck or by the peasantry, the Norwegians lost twenty-four thousand men, and the Scots about five thousand. The met the Scots in this noble battle near the town of Largs, in the year 1263.
74. When Haakon returned to the Orkneys, he was unbowed by such a great calamity, and strove to repair his strength, commanding new forces to be furnished from Denmark and Norway. He himself built a new fleet, so that he might avenge himself on his enemies in the following spring. But he died at the beginning of December, so everything came to halt. On the very day that Haakon died, a son was born to Alexander and Margaret, to whom the name of Alexander was also given. So that day was a double source of joy to the people, with the birth of a royal child providing hope for the succession, and the death of a deadly foe, which had the effect of removing the fear of impending war. And so all things were done by which the people loves to express its joy: bells were ordered to be ruing throughout all Scotland, religious rites were performed with the finest ornamentation, public games were celebrated, private banquets held, and they showed all signs of abandoned fear and joyfulness. Haakon was succeeded by his son Magnus, a faithful and God-fearing man endowed with consummate prudence. In the following year, he sent a delegation to Alexander to sue for peace, on condition that Arran and Bute would revert to the Scots, but the rest of the Hebrides would remain Norwegian, as they had been. Alexander’s reply was that, unless the Hebrides were surrendered to the Scots, to which they belonged by ancient right, and they quit Scotland as quickly as they could, he would not rest until he had recovered them all. The embassy was dismissed, and Alexander Stuart and John Comyn were sent to the island of Mona with an army. This had been wrongfully occupied by the Norwegians and Danes for sixty-seven years, but they recovered it, not without loss of life. Once Mona had been conquered, it was given a governor, who could come to the assistance of the Scots with thirteen longships and five hundred marines whenever the need arose.
75. Next, a great army to the Hebrides was sent under the leadership of the Earls of Athol, Carrick, and Merch, together with Alexander Stewart, the Thane of Argyll and Lennox. With great difficulty they managed to capture the largest of these, killing their Norwegian garrisons wherever they went, and the other islands lost confidence in themselves and freely came over to the Scottish side. When King Magnus saw this, he sent ambassadors to Alexander, the chief of whom was the chancellor of his realm. Their first order of business was to recover the Hebrides on any condition they could. If they failed in this, they should at least claim an annual tribute. When the ambassadors saw that the Norwegians were deeply hated by the Hebridians, who were lodging their own strong objections, they omitted their first set of demands, and the kings came to a subsequent agreement on these terms. First and foremost, there should be an enduring peace between them, and they shoiuld remain friends and allies. Magnus and the Norwegian nobility abjured all right to the Hebrides, and in exchange Alexander paid the king of Norway four thousand silver marks, and also an annual fee of one hundred marks. Alexander’s daughter Margaret, who was scarcely one year old, was to marry Magnus’ son Haakon, still a babe bawling in his cradle, when they reached marriageable age. In addition, they joined in paying to build a hospital for the poor at the place the battle had been fought. When this peace had been arranged, before being sent home the ambadssadors were obliged to attend the hanging of those Hebridians who had especially supported the Norwegians against the Scottish.
76. At this time, England was suffering from civil war, since some nobles were rebelling against King Henry and his son Edward, under the leadership of Simon de Montfort. In order to fend this off with greater ease, Henry sent a delegation requesting assistance from Alexander, who sent them home accompanied by five thousand armed men under the command of John Comyn. They did vigorous work for Henry, conquering Simon and killing him together with his son. The other rebels obtained a royal pardon. This uprising was followed by another, the responsibility of Roger Mortimer, but it was quelled with far greater speed than had been its predecessor. For a castle named Revelard was stormed and its garrison killed off, and Roger was taken along with his fellow conspirators and suffered his deserved punishment. Henceforth Alexander abused the leisure he had gained and, spurred on by certain impious men who begrudged the people their tranquility, loosened the reins he had previously held so tight, and egged on both soldiers and secular men, who thought it a noble thing to commit crimes at the behest of sovereigns, to employ their license and harry monks and churchmen. When the Bishop of St. Andrews attempted to forbid this by resorting to excommunications, and had visited this on some members of the royal household, Alexander was irate and commanded him either to desist from such attempts or go into exile, and railed against the Prior of St. Andrews, calling him the bishop’s particular crony, who dared incite him against himself. The bishop preferred exile to servitude and criminality and determined to sail over to France as soon as possible. But the king was advised by certain of his noblemen and seriously rebuked because he had no fear to trouble Christ’s Church, which he ought to be defending, and he abandoned his undertakings and commanded the bishop to be returned as soon as possible, begging forgiveness for his deeds. And so the damage created by those rascals was made good, and all of them were freed from the bond of excommunication.
77. It was at about this time that a papal legate was sent once more to Scotland in order collect a great sum of money for a Crusade against the Saracens. But he was obliged by Alexander to remain outside the borders of Scotland and explain his mandate in writing. In the name of the pope, therefore, he requested each parish, without exception, to contribute four marks sterling, band eighty from those abbots or bishops who he thought to be wealthy or capable of being browbeaten into compliance. He also submitted certain statutes he had drawn up while on his journey in order to ingratiate himself with the king, which he wrote would be a fine thing for his people to adopt. The king, the leaders of the Church, and the people replied to these tings with a single voice that, other what Church councils or the Pope enjoined, they had no need to take his or any man’s advice on how to live aright. For where you have more rules, there you can find more transgressors. As far as his money-gathering went, it seemed proper to them to punish the enemies of the church and free those downtrodden wretches who had been reduced to the worst kind of servitude, but his request for so much money was immoderate. They would each furnish some company of soldiers, in proportion their individual means, so that their money would not suffer a new shipwreck or be stolen by robbers along the way. By means of his son Edward, who had come to Roxburgh to visit his sister and brother-in-law, King Henry praised his son-in-law for this response. For he too had been taught by experience.
78. Then Alexander sent a thousand silver marks to Pope Clement IV to help subsidize the Crusade. And, as requested by his ambassadors, he sent King Louis a thousand soldiers under the command of the Earls of Carrick and Athol, Alexander Stewart’s brother John, Alexander Comyn, Robert Reid, George Durward, John Quincy, and William Gordon, who were to follow Louis wherever he went. All of these died fighting alongside Louis in Africa, some in battle, and others by their inability to withstand the pestilential heat of the region, being accustomed to a cold climate, in the year of Incarnation 1270. King Henry’s son Edward had also gone to Africa with Louis, but was recalled by news of his father’s death, and enjoyed a fair homeward voyage. At this same time Marjorie, the daughter of the Earl of Carrick, now of adult age and fit for marriage, chanced to be hunting game in a forest for her recreation, when she encountered Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale in Scotland and of Cleveland in England, a nephew of David Earl of Huntingdon by his second daughter Isabelle. In his embrace she fell in love with the young man and took him with her to a castle named Turnbury, and there they were married as speedily as possible, lest someone chance to prevent it. From that marriage was born Robert Bruce, who subsequently inherited the throne of Scotland when King Alexander’s royal line expired. Alexander took it amiss that she had entered into marriage with a young man she had laid eyes on only once in her life, but was mollified by many entreaties and left her in possession of her father’s estate, which in his indignation he had come very close to taking away.
79. A little later, after the brothers of King Henry’s son Edward had come to Scotland to visit their sister and brother-in-law, and when they had escorted Alexander and his wife to London, so they might attend Edward’s coronation, many games of all kinds were celebrated, including a tournament, which was fought to the great glory of the Scottish nation. At this time there was a nobleman of Normandy living at Edward’s court, a man of great physical ability and a highly skilled horseman. After this man had spent an entire day defeating all all, to his great glory, a certain noble Scotsman named Ferquhard, a man of Ross who had followed his king to the celebrations for honor’s sake, at length managed to unhorse the Norman, to the great pleasure of the Scottish. Overjoyed by this victory by one of his subjects, Alexander bestowed on him the earldom of Ross. Thus for five generations his family has retained that surname, and the names of its possessor were Ferquhard, William, William, Hugh, and William. But in the sixth generation the Earl of Ross assumed a different name, that of Walter Leslie, and Walter’s son, the seventh, was called Alexander Walter. At that point that famous family lapsed into desuetude for want of heirs. At this same time, King Alexander’s son Alexander, having been given the country of Huntingdonshire by his father, took his oath to Edward, as was required by law.
80. After his return from England, uprisings caused Alexander no little trouble, for many nobles in his neighborhood rose up against John Comyn Earl of Athol, because he had built the very strong Castle Blair in Athol as a defense against robbers. Reginald Chein, Alexander’s chamberlain, a nobleman of that time and a prudent peace-maker, was sent to them, summoned the opposing sides to Castle Caledonia, and easily arranged a reconciliation. There arose a second quarrel, between two of the most noble men of that age, John Comyn and Walter Bulloch of Menteith. For John claimed the succession to that earldom as his hereditary right, because no male heir had a better claim than himself, whereas Walter said he had married a daughter of the previous earl. William Fraser, the chancellor of the realm, was appointed by the king, with the consent of the fathers of the realm, as judge of his matter, and his verdict was that John should receive half the earldom together with the title, and the other part should fall to Walter, without any title. After these times, a truce was made with Sultan and King Edward of England came home from the Holy Land, in the year of our Salvation 1273. In this year a second son was born to Alexander, who received the name David. In this same year a council was held at Lyon, to which were summoned the heads of all mendicant orders, and these were reduced in number to the same four we have today. For they had multiplied to a countless variety, since each man desired to invent something new and make a lasting name for himself by founding a new sect. It was likewise ordained that no man should henceforth attempt to start a new one, so that idlers might not live by other men’s sweat, imposing on the people by claiming the name of a novel order. After a truce had been made in Africa and the Christian army had gone home, the Saracen believed that he could overwhelm his enemies, now destitute of help, so he attacked them in violation of the truce and mistreated them with very foul cruelty. When this became known to the kings of Christendom, they thought it unworthy of them not bring swift aid, and so they prepared themselves for yet another new Crusade. The Scots contributed a tenth of their Church tithes to this purpose. But an unkindly fate prevented these good intentions from being put into action, since their leaders were impeded by domestic concerns and internal strife.
81. Meanwhile Alexander’s wife breathed her life at Cupar Castle, nor did his second son David long survive his mother. Therefore Alexander, concerned about the succession, betrothed his first-born son to the daughter of the Count of Flanders as soon has he could, and their marriage was celebrated with great pomp at Jedburgh. In the following year, he bestowed his daughter Margaret on King Haakon of Norway. Some bishops, and a large number of barons and nobles accompanied her to Norway, and no small part of them perished by shipwreck on the homeward voyage. A little later the royal house, already beset by these losses, suffered two more deaths. The first was that of the king’s son Alexander, who died childless, and this was soon followed by that of Margaret who, as I have said, was the King of Norway’s bride, who left behind only a single daughter. Not only the king, but also the whole of Scotland were greatly distressed by their passing, for there was no remaining hope for the succession, or at best a slender one, and those who forecast that great evils would come to pass were not mistaken in their judgment. But I shall speak of these things below. When Alexander had returned his son’s widow to Flanders with as much estate as he could, he sent his representatives to France to find him a new wife, and they brought back to Scotland, in the company of a great company of earls, Yolande, the daughter of the Count of Dreux (or, as some say, of Champagne), and Alexander married her at Jedburgh, to great rejoicing. But this happiness was short-lived For the in that same year, as he was riding to Kinghorn in a boyish manner and was spurring his horse along with unusual movements, he was thrown to the ground and unhappily died on the spot of a broken neck. He was buried at Dumfermline in the thirty-seventh year of his reign, which was the year of Man’s Salvation 1286.
82. Historians record that on the night before Alexander died the Earl of Merch asked a famous seer, rarely wrong in his predictive art, named Thomas Learmonth or Thomas the Rhymer, whether anything unusual would happen on the following day, and that he answered, albeit obscurely, that a great wind would blow up and inflict a great injury on Scotland before the sun reached its zenith. Therefore all business was put off until the following day, and Thomas went off to dinner at the Earl of Merch’s invitation. But when the weather remained fair although noon was near at hand, and no signs of an impending storm were visible, they say the earl rebuked Thomas as an impostor for having been wrong in his forecast. Thomas made no answer beyond remarking that noon had not yet come, and, although they said that nothing had occurred, he bade them wait for the appointed hour. And, before it came, a messenger arrived bringing news of the king’s sudden death. Then Thomas said that the earl should understand this was the storm destined to bring Scotland great tragedy. Whatever kind of man you want to think him, and whatever divine inspiration you care to imagine he had, he was a man held in admiration by all Scotland, for, even if he purposefully chose to use obscure words, he never predicted things that did not quickly come to pass.
83. A few years before Alexander died, all Wales was subjugated by the English. The Prince of Wales was killed in battle and his brother fell into enemy hands alive. His feet were tied to a horse’s tale and he was drawn to the place of execution, where he was cut into four pieces, which were sent to various English cities as a warning to lovers of rebellion and uprisings not to attempt anything similar. During the reign of Alexander III many prodigies were seen. In the seventeenth year of his reign there was such an abundance of caterpillars throughout all Scotland and England that they consumed all the fruit of trees such as apples, pears, plumbs, and whatever other fruit was growing, and ruined every manner of garden vegetable by eating them down to their stalks. And in that some year rivers, especially the Tay and the Forth, were so swollen by storms that they overflowed, overwhelming many farmsteads and villages, and killed a great number of men and livestock. In Alexander’s twentieth year, a comet of wonderful magnitude was seen in the south. And on the twenty-third or twenty-fourth day of Epiphany there was such a windstorm, accompanied by hail of unusual size, throughout all Scotland that houses were knocked down everywhere, and the fire of their hearths spread and consumed many hamlets and towns, and a great deal of damage was suffered by churches. For the bells in their steeples, being made out of very precious metals, either cracked or melted. Among the most memorable of these were the bells hanging in the chapel at Arbroath, where bells and chapel were alike consumed. And some notable towns suffered from the conflagration: nearly all of Aberdeen was consumed, and a large part of Perth caught fire. And in Clove, a part of the district of Angus, many men died abed, and others were caught when they failed to escape in time and were overcome by smoke in their houses. In addition, no small part of the town of Lanrick, together with its church, and also many villages of Lothian, which it would take me too long to enumerate.
84. And then, in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, the plague first visited Scotland, a disease previously unknown here, and it took away a large number of the people. Afterwards, at Alexander’s second wedding, when, as is the custom, the bridegroom was leading the bride in the dance, with a great train of men and women following after them, a skeleton was seen to bring up the rear. When the king and the others caught sight of it, they stopped for a moment, and then, disconcerted by the evil sight, they abstained from all celebration. In Alexander’s time there lived some men notable for their learning and piety, among whom was Thomas Aquinas, easily the prince of the scholastic theologians, whose equal has never been seen before or since. Then there was Michael Scot, especially learned in medicine, and was no less dearly beloved to King Edward than to Alexander, while he lived.