oTo see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a textual note, click on a red square.
THE EIGHTH BOOK
LEXANDER and his whole lineage (besides one neice by his daughter) being extinct), a convention of the Estates was held at Scone to treat about creating a new King and setling the state of the kingdom. Whither when most of the Nobility were come, in the first place they appointed Vicegerents to govern matters at present, so dividing the provinces that Duncan Macduff should preside over Fife, of which he was Earl, John Cumins, Earl of Buchan, over Buchan, William Frazer, Archbishop of St. Andrews, over that part of the kingdom which lay northward; and that Robert Bishop of Glacow, another John Cumins and John Stuart should govern the southern countries; and that the boundary in the midst should be the River Forth. Edward, King of England, knowing that his sisters nephew, daughter of the King of Norway, was the only surviving person of all the posterity of Alexander, and that she was lawful heiress of the kingdom of Scotland, sent ambassadors into Scotland to desire her as a wife for his son. The embassadors, in the session, discoursed much of the publick utility like to accrue to both kingdoms by this marriage; neither did they find the Scots averse therefrom. For Edward was a man of great courage and power, yet he desired to increase it, and his valour highly appeared in the Holy War in his fathers life time, and, after his death, in the subduing of Wales. Neither were there ever more endearments passed betwixt the Scots and the English than under the last Kings; yea, the ancient hatred seemed no way more likely to be abolished than if both nations on just and equal terms might be united into one. For these reasons the marriage was easily assented to. Other considerations were also added by the consent of both parties: as that the Scots should use their own laws and magistrates until children were begot out of that marriage which might govern the kingdom; or if no such were begot, or, being born, if they dyed before they came to the crown, then the kingdom of Scotland was to pass to the next kinsman of the blood royal. Matters being thus setled, embassadors were sent into Norway, Michael or, as others call him, David Weems and Michael Scot, two eminent knights of Fife and much famed for their prudence in those days. But Margarite (for that was the name of the young princess) dyed before they came thither, so that they returned home in a sorrowful posture without their errand. By reason of the untimely death of this young lady, a controversie arose concerning the kingdom, which mightily shook England but almost quite ruined Scotland.
2. The competitors were men of great power, John Baliol and Robert Bruce, of which Baliol had lands in France, Bruce in England, but both of them great possessions and allies in Scotland. But before I enter upon their disputes, that all things may be more clear to the reader I must fetch them down a little higher. The last three Kings of Scotland, William and the two Alexanders, the Second and the Third, and their whole off-spring being extinct, there remained none who could lawfully claim the kingdom but the posterity of David, Earl of Huntington. This David was brother to King William and great uncle to Alexander the Third. He married Maud in England, daughter to the Earl of Chester, by whom he had three daughters. The eldest, named Margarite, married Alan of Galway, a man very powerful amongst the Scots; the second was matched to Robert Bruce, sirnamed The noble , of high English descent and of a large estate; the third was married to Henry Hastings, an Englishman also, whose posterity do deservedly enjoy the Earldom of Huntington at this day. But to let him pass (because he never put in for the kingdom), I shall confine my discourse to the stock, cause and ancestry of Baliol and Bruce only. Whilst William was King of Scotland, Fergus, Prince of Galway, left two sons, Gilbert and Ethred. William, to prevent the seeds of discord betwixt the two brothers, divided their fathers inheritance equally betwixt them. Gilbert, the eldest, took this highly amiss, and thereupon conceived an hatred against his brother as rival, and against the King too for his unequal distribution. Thereupon, when the King was prisoner in England, being then freed from fear of the law, he discovered his long-concealed hatred against them both. As for his brother, he took him unawares, pulled out his eyes, cut out his tongue, and so (not content with a single death) he put him to grievous and excessive tortures before he dyed, and he himself joyned with the English and preyed upon his neighbors and country-men as if they had been in an enemies country, for he wasted all with fire and sword. And except [unless] Rolland, the son of Ethred, had gathered a band of countrymen who remained firm to the King together to resist his attempts, he had either wasted the neighbour countries or drawn them all over to his party. This Rolland was a forward young man of great abilities both of body and mind. He not only abated the fury of his uncle, but many times fought valiantly, and sometimes successfully with the English as he met them whilst he repressed their plunderings, or as he himself spoiled their lands. At last, when the King was restored, Gilbert, by the mediation of his friends, got a pardon upon promise of a sum of money for the wrongs he had done, and giving pledges to that purpose.
3. But, Gilbert dying a few days after, those who were accustomed to blood and prey under him, and who had given up themselves into the protection of the King of England either out of the inconstancy of their dispositions or for fear of punishment, being stirr’d on by the gripes from an accusing conscience for what they had formerly done, took up arms again under the command of Gilpatrick, Henry Kennedy, and Samuel, who before had been the assistors and companions to Gilbert in his wickedness. Rolland was sent with an army against them, and after a great fight he slew their chief leaders and a great part of the common soldiers. They who escaped fled to one Gilcolumb, a captain of the freebooters and robbers who had made a great spoil in Lothian and much endamaged the Nobles and richer sort, of whom also he killed some. Thence marching into Galway, he undertook Gilbert’s cause when all others looked upon it as desperate. He not only claimed his lands as his own, but carried himself as the lord of all Galway. At last Rolland fought with him in the Calends of October, about three months after Gilbert’s forces were defeated, and slew him with the greatest part of his army, with very little loss on his own side. Amongst the slain there was found his own brother, a stout young man. The English, being troubled at the overthrow of these men who had put themselves under their protection the year before, march’d with an army to Carlisle. Thither also came Rolland, being reconciled to the King of England by the mediation of William, where he refuted the calumnies of his enemies and shewed that he had done nothing maliciously or causelessly against his own and the publicks enemy, upon which he was honourably dismissed by the King. William also returned home and, calling to mind the constancy of his father Etrhed and how many noble exploits he had performed for the good of the publick, he gave him all Galway. And besides, he bestowed Carrick on the son of Gilbert, though his father had not deserved so well of him. William of Newberry, the English writer, records these things as done anno 1183.
4. Rolland took to wife the sister of William Morvill, who was Lord High Constable in Scotland; who dying without issue, Rolland enjoyed that office as hereditary to him and his family. He had a son called Alan, who for his assistance afforded to John, King of England, in his Irish war, was rewarded by him with large possessions, on which accompt, by the permission of William of Scotland, he was a feudatary to the English King and swore fealty to him. This Alan took to wife Margarite, the eldest daughter of David, Earl of Huntington. By her he had tree daughters. The eldest, Dornadilla, he married to John Baliol, who was King of Scotland for some years. But Robert Bruce married Isabella, Davids second daughter. He came to be Earl of Carrick upon this occasion: Martha, Countess of Carrick, being marriageable and the only heiress of her father, who died in the Holy War, as she was a-hunting, cast her eye on Robert Bruce, the beautifullest young man of all her train. Whereupon she courteously invited him, and in a manner compelled him into her castle, which was near at hand. Being come thither, his age, beauty, kindred and manners easily procuring mutual love, they were quickly married in a private way. When the King was informed thereof he was much offended with them both, because they right of bestowing the lady in marriage lay with him; yet by the mediation of friends he was afterwards reconciled to them. Out of this marriage Robert Bruce was born, who afterwards was King of Scotland. Thus having enlarged my self in this prologue, I come now to the matter in hand, and to the competitors of the kingdom.
5. These were Dornadilla, the grand-child of David of Huntington by his eldest daughter, and Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, grand-son of the said David by his youngest daughter. Dornadilla’s pretensions were grounded on the custom of the country, whereby he or she that was nearer in degree had a better right. Robert Bruce insisted on the sex: that, in a like degree of propinquity, males ought to be preferred before females, so that he denied it to be just that, as along as a grand-son was alive, a grand-daughter should inherit her ancestors estate. And though sometimes the contrary may be practised in the inheritances of private men, yet the matter is far otherwise in those estates which are called feuds and in the succession of kingdoms. And of this there was urged a late example in the controversie concerning the Duchy of Burgundy, which the Earl of Nevers, who married the grand-child of the last Duke by his eldest son claimed, yet the inheritance was adjudged to the son of the Duke’s younger brother, so that Robert contended that he was nearer in degree, as being a grand-son, than John Baliol, who was but a great grand-son. As for Dornadilla, with he stood in equal degree, yet he was to be preferred before her, as a male before a female. The Scots Nobles could not decide this controversie at home, for by reason of the power of both parties the land was divided into two factions. For Baliol by his mother held all Galway, a very large country; and besides, he was allied to the Cumins’s family, which was the most powerful next the Kings. For Mary, the sister of Dornadilla, had married John Cumins. Robert, on the other side, in England possessed Cleveland; in Scotland, Annandale and Garioch; and by his son, Earl of Carrick (who was afterwards King) was related to many noble families, and he was also very gracious with his own people, so that for these reasons the controversie was not able to be decided at home; yea, if it should have been equitably determined, yet there was not a sufficient party in Scotland to compel both sides to stand to the award, and therefore Edward of England was almost unanimously chosen to be the decider thereof. Neither was there any doubt made of his fidelity, as being born of such a father as the late King of Scotland had experienced to be both a loving father in law to him and a just guardian too, and, on the contrary, the English King had received a late and memorable testimony of the Scots good-will towards him in that they so readily consented to the marriage of his son with their Queen.
6. Whereupon Edward as soon as he came to Berwick sent letters to the Peers and governors of Scotland to come to him, protesting that he summoned them to appear before him, not as subjects before or their lord or supreme magistrate, but as friends before an arbitrator chosen by themselves. First of all he required an oath of the competitors to stand by his award; in the next place, he required the same oath of the Nobles and commissioners to obey him as King whom he upon his oath should declare so to be; and for this he desired a publick scrol or record signed by all the estates and each ones seal affixed thereto to be given to him. This being done, he chose of the most prudent of all the Estates 12 English, and adjoyned 12 Scots to them; from them also he exacted an oath to judge rightly and truly according to their consciences in the case. These things were managed openly and above board, which in appearance were honest and taking with the people, but his private design was secretly agitated amongst a few only, how he might bring Scotland under his subjection. The thing was thought feasable enough in regard the kingdom was divided into two factions, but to make the way more intricate and the fraud more covert, he raised up eight other competitors besides Bruce and Baliol, that out of so great a number he might more easily bring over one or more to his party. And lest so great a matter might seem to be determined unadvisedly, he consulted with those who were the most eminent in France for piety, prudence, and the knowledge of the law. Neither did he doubt but that (as that sort of men are never always of one opinion) he should fish something out of their answers which might make for his purpose. The new competitors seeing no grounds for their pretensions, of their own accord quickly desisted. But to the lawyers whom he governed and influenced as he pleased, a false or made case was stated or propounded thus:
7. A certain King, that was never wont to be crowned or anointed, but only to be placed in a kind of seat and declared King by his subjects, yet not a King but that he was under the patronage of another King whose homage or beneficiary he professed to be; such a King died without children. Two of his kinsmen begat By Sempronius, great uncle of the deceased King, claim the inheritance, to wit, Titius, great grand-son by the eldest daughter of Sempronius, and Seius, grand-son by his younger daughter. Now which of these is to be preferred in an undividable estate? The case being propounded well near in these very words, they all generally answered that if any law or custom did obtain in the kingdom which was sued for, they to be guided by and stand to it; if not, then they must be guided by him under whose patronage they were, because in judging of freehold custom does not ascend, i. e., the usage and award of the superior is to be a law to the inferiour, but not on the contrary. It would be too prolix a task to reckon up particularly all the opinions, but, in brief, almost all of them answered very doubtfully and uncertainly as to the right of the competitors. But as the case was falsely put, they all gave the supreme power of judgment in the controversie to Edward. Hereby the matter was made more intricate and involved than before, so that the next year they met again at Norham. There Edward by agents fit for his purpose gently tried the minds of the Scots whether they would willingly put themselves under the power and jurisdiction of the English, which (as was alleged) their ancestors had often done. But when they unanimously refused so to do, he called to him the competitors whom he himself had set up, and by great promises extorted from them to swear homage to him; and he persuades the rest to remove the assembly to Berwick as a more convenient place. There he shut up the 24 judges, elected as before, in a church without any body else amongst them, commanding them to give their judgments in the case, and till they did so no man was to have access to them. But the being slow in their proceedings, he ever and anon went in alone to them, and by discoursing sometimes one and sometimes another, finding that most were of opinion that the right lay on Baliol’s side, tho’ he were inferiour in favour and popularity, he went to Bruce, who, because he was legally cast by their votes, he thought he might more easily persuade to assent to his design, and promised him the crown of Scotland if he would put himself under the patronage of the King of England and be subject to his authority. Bruce answered him ingeniously that he was not so eager of a crown as to accept of it by abridging the liberty his ancestors had left him. Hereupon he was dismissed, and he sends for John Baliol, who, being more desirous of a kingdom than of honest methods to come by it, greedily accepts the condition offered him by Edward.
8. JOHN BALIOL, THE NINETY SIXTH KING
Whereupon John Baliol was declared King of Scotland, 6 years and 9 months after the death of Alexander. The rest of the Scots, being studious of the publick tranquillity, led him to Scone and there crowned him according to custom, and all swore fealty to him except Bruce. He, being thus made King by the English and accepted by the Scots, being now secure in the kingdom, came to Edward, who was at New-Castle upon Tine, and, according to his promise, swore fealty to him; so did the nobles also who were of his train, as not daring to contradict two Kings, especially they being so far from home. As soon as the rest of the Nobility heard of it they were grievously offended, but, being conscious of their want of power, they dissembled their anger for the present. But soon after an occasion was offered them to shew it. Mackduff, Earl of Fife (who in the time of the interregnum was one of the six governors of the land) was slain by the Abernethians, which was then a rich and potent in Scotland, and the Earls brother, being accused by them and brought to his answer before the assembly of the States, the King gave sentence in favour of the Abernethians, so that Mackduff was dispossessed of the land which was in controversie betwixt them. Whereupon he conceived a double displeasure against the King, one on the account of his own wrong, and another because he had not severely punished the murderers of his brother, so that he appealed to the King of England and desired that Baliol might answer the matter before him. Hereupon the cause was removed to London, and as Baliol was casually sitting by Edward in the Parliament House, and, when he was called, would have answered by a proctor, it was denied him, so that he was enforced to arise from his seat and to plead his cause from a lower place. He bore the affront silently for the present, not daring to do otherwise, but as soon as ever he was dispatched from thence such flames of anger burnt in his breast that his thoughts were wholly taken upon how to reconcile his own subjects and how to offend Edward.
9. As he was thus musing, it happened commodiously for him that a new discord arose betwixt the French and English, which presently after broke out into a war. Whereupon embassadors were sent to the assembly of Estates in Scotland from both Kings. The French’s errand was to renew the old league with their new King, and the English was upon the account of their late oath to Edward, to receive aid from them in the war he had undertaken. Both embassys were referred to the Council of the Estates, where the Nobles, prone to rebellion, were of opinion that the request of the French was just, of the English unjust. For the league made by universal consent with the French more than 500 years before had been kept sacred and inviolable to that very day in regard of the justness and utility thereof, but this late subjection and surrendering themselves to the English was extorted from the King against his will; and tho (as they proceeded to allege) he had been willing, yet it did oblige neither King nor kingdom. It had been made by the King alone without the consent of the Estates, whereas the King might not act any thing relating to the publick state of the kingdom without, much less against, the advice of the States. So a decree was made that embassadors should be sent into France to renew the ancient league, and that a wife should be desired for Edward Baliol, son to John, out of the Kings royal stem. Another embassy was also sent into England to signify that the King of Scots did revoke the reddition [surrender] of the kingdom and himself which he had forceably and unjustly made, and renouncing his friendship. Both for that cause, and also for the many and unnumerable other wrongs which he had done to him and his, he was resolved to assert his ancient liberty. No many of any eminencie would carry this message to Edward, because he was of a fierce nature and was rendred more so by reason of the indulgence of fortune, which made him even almost to forget himself. At last a certain monk, or, as some say, the Abbat of Aberbrothoc, carried letters of that import to him, who was grievously affronted for his pains and had much ado to escape home, being protected more by his undervalued tenuity [humble station] than the reverence of his embassadorship. In the mean time Edward had made a truce with the French for some months, hoping that before they were ended he might subdue the Scots, taking them unprovided. And therefore he sent his fleet, designed for France, against Scotland, commanding them to stop all provisions from being carried into Berwick, wherein, he heard, there was a very strong garison.
10. The Scots fought with this fleet in the mouth of the river, they destroyed and took 18 of their ships and put the rest to flight. Edward, out of fierceness of mind by this loss, was highly enraged to revenge. He summons Baliol once and again to appear. And he himself levies a great army and comes to New-Castle upon Tine. There also he gave forth an edict for John to appear, legally to purge himself from the crimes objected against him. But neither he nor any for him appearing at the day appointed, he added policy to force and sent for Bruce, and promises him the kingdom if he would do his endeavour faithfully to depose and drive out Baliol. “To do which (said he) you need be at little labour of cost, only write letters to your friends that either they would desert the Kings party or not be hearty or forward if it came to a battel.” He by great marches came to Berwick, but not being able to carry it by reason of the strength of the garison, he pretended to raise his siege and caused a rumour to be spread abroad by some Scots of Bruce his party that he despaired of taking it, and that Baliol was coming with a great army to raise the siege and was now near at hand. Whereupon all the chief men of the garison made haste out to receive him honourably in promiscuous multitudes, horse and foot together, so that Edward sent in some horse amongst them. Some they trod down and killed, others they divided from their company and, seizing on the nearest gate, they entred the town. Edward followed with his foot and made a miserable slaughter of all sorts of people. Above 7000 of the Scots are reported to have been there slain, amongst them were the flower of the Lothian and Fife Nobility.
11. Though I love not to interrupt the continued series of my history (as having resolved against it at first) with any unnecessary digression, yet I cannot forbear to expose that unbridled liberty of evil speaking which Richard Grafton, who lately compiled the history of England, assumes to himself, that so they who read what I here write may judge what credit is to be given to him. For he says that Hector Boetius writes in his 14th book, and 2nd chapter, that so much blood was spilt there that rivers of it running through the city might have driven a water-mill for two days. To which I say, first, that Boetius never divided his book into chapters; and besides, what he affirms is no where found in his writings. But to leave this unlearned and shameless relator, I return to Edward, who by reason of the abounding multitude of his army sent part of it to besiege Dunbar. And a few days after the Castle of Berwick, despairing of any relief, was surrendred to him. Afterwards he joined all his forces together at Dunbar to fight the Scots army who came to relieve it. The battel was fierce and, the victory inclining to the English, the chief of the Nobility fled into the Castle, but the Castle was soon taken, either by the perfidiousness of Richard Stuart the governor, or else because he had not provisions for so great a multitude as were shut up in so narrow a compass. Edward was very cruel to all the prisoners. Some cast the blame of this overthrow upon Robert Bruce the elder, in that his friends giving back in the battel, it strook a terrour into the rest. But our writers do constantly affirm that when Bruce demanded of Edward the kingdom of Scotland according to his promise (as a reward of his pains that day), that Edward should answer in French, of which language he was master, “What, have I nothing else to do but to win kingdoms for you?”
12. When Dunbar and some other castles near the Borders of England were taken, the surrender of Edinburgh and Sterlin followed soon after. Then Edward, passing over the Forth, directed his march where Baliol then was. When he was come as far as Montross without any to oppose him, Baliol, by the persuasion of John Cumins of Sirabogy, came to him and surrendred to him himself and the kingdom. Baliol was sent into England by sea, and Edward, returning to Berwick, sent a strict and severe summons to all the Scots nobles to attend him there. After the came he compelled them to swear fealty to him. But William Douglas, an eminent man both on the account of his family and also his own famous exploits, obstinately refusing to do it was cast into prison, where in a few years he died. Thus Edward, having succeeded in his expedition according to his mind, left John Warren, Earl of Surry, as proxy behind him, and Hugh Cressingham Lord Chief Justice or Treasurer, and so returned to London. There he committed John Baliol to prison in the 4th year of his reign, but a while after at the entreaty of the Pope and his promise that he would raise no tumults in Scotland he was sent back into France, his son Edward being retained as an hostage. Edward, having prepared all things for the French War (which by reason of the commotions in Scotland he had deferred) now sails thither with great forces. The Scots, by reason of his absence being erected to some hopes of their liberty, chose 12 men to govern the state, by whose unanimous consent John Cumins, Earl of Buchan, was sent into England with a good force; and in regard the English, who were scattered in garisons over Scotland dared not stir, he spoiled Northumberland without controul and laid siege to Carlisle, but to no purpose. though this expedition did somewhat encourage the before crest-fallen Scots and hindred the English from doing them further mischief, yet it contributed little or nothing to the main chance in regard that all the places of strength were possessed by the enemies garisons.
13. But when the Nobility had neither strength nor courage to undertake great matters, there presently started up one William Wallace, a man of an ancient and noble family but one that had lived poorly and meanly, as having little or no estate. Yet this man performed in this war not only beyond the expectation, but even the belief of all the common people. For he was bold-spirited and strong-bodied, and when he was but a youth had slain a young English nobleman who proudly domineered over him. For this fact he was fain [obliged] to run away and to skulk up and down in several places for some years to save his life; and by his course of life his body was hardned against wind and weather, and his mind also fortified to undergo greater hazards when time should serve. At length growing weary of such an erratick life, he resolved to attempt something though never so hazardous, and therefore gathered a band of men together of like fortune with himself, and did no only assault single persons but even greater companies, though with an inferior number, and accordingly he slew several persons in divers places. He played his pranks with as much celerity as boldness and never gave his enemy opportunity to fight him, so that in a short time his fame was spread over both nations, by which means many came in to him, moved by the likeness of their cause or with the like love of their country; thus he made up a considerable army. And seeing the Nobles were sluggish in their management of affairs, either out of fear or dulness, this Wallace was proclaimed Regent by the tumultuous band that followed him, and so he managed things as a lawful magistrate and the substitute of Baliol. He accepted of this name not out of any ambition or desire to rule, but because it was cast upon him by the love and good will of his countrymen.
14. With this army the first visible exploit he performed was at Lanerick, where he slew the Major General of that precinct, being an Englishman of good descent. Afterwards he took and demolished many castles which were either slenderly fortified or meanly garrisoned, or else guarded negligently; which petty attempts to encouraged his soldiers that they shunned no service, no not the most hazardous, under his conduct, as having experienced that his boldness was guided by counsel, and that counsel seconded by good success. When the report of the these things was spread abroad, and perhaps somewhat enlarged beyond the bounds of truth out of mens respect and favour to him, all that wished well to their country, or were afraid of their own particular conditions, flocked in to him, as judging it fit to take opportunity by the forelock, so that in a short time he reduced all the castles which the English held on the other side of the Forth, though never so well fortified, and, for fear of him, carefully guarded. He took and demolished the Castles of Dundee, Forfar, Brechin and Montross; he seized on Dunoter unawares, and garisoned it; he entred Aberdene (which the enemy, for fear of his coming, had plundered and burnt) even whilst it was in flames. But a rumour, being scattered abroad concerning the coming of the English army, prevented his taking the Castle, for he determined to meet them at the Forth, not being willing to hazard a battel but in a place he himself should choose. Edward of England, when he went into France (as I said before) put English garisons into all the strong holds of Scotland, and besides, having many of the Scots faithful to him and unfaithful to their country, he banished and sent the Scots Nobility whom he most suspected into the heart of England till his return. Amongst which was John Cumins, lord or petty King of Badenach, and Alan Longan, a man fit both for advice and action.
15. And having setled matters after this sort he was so far from fearing any insurrection in Scotland that he carried all his army over along with him. But, hearing of the many exploits, of Wallace he thought there was need of a greater force to suppress him, yet that the expedition was not worthy of a King neither (as being only against a roving thief, for so the English called Wallace), and therefore he writes to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and William Latimer that they should speedily levy what forces they could out of the neighbouring parts and join themselves with Cressingham, who as yet remained in Scotland to subdue the rebellious Scots. Thomas Walsingham writes that the Earl of Warren was General in this expedition. But Wallace, who was then besieging the Castle of Cowper in Fife, lest his army, which he had increased against the coming of the English, should be idle, the English being near at hand, marched directly to Sterling. The River Forth, no where, almost, fordable, may be there passed over by a bridge of wood, though it be increased by the addition of other rivers and by the coming in of the tide too. There Cressingham passed over with the greatest part of his army, but the bridge, either having its beams loosned and disjointed on purpose by the skill of the architect (as our writers says it was) so that it might not be able to bear any great weight, or else being overladen with the heavy burden of so many horse, foo,t and carriages as passed over, was broken, and so the march of the rest of the English was precluded and hindred. The Scots set upon those who were passed over before they could put themselves in a posture, and, having slain their General, drove the rest back into the river. The slaughter was so great that they were all either killed or drowned. Wallace returned from this fight to the besieging of castles, and in a short time he so changed the scene of affairs that he left none of the English in Scotland but such as were made prisoners. This victory (wherein none of any eminency among the Scots fell save Andrew Murray, whose son, some years, was Regent of Scotland) was obtained in the Ides of September in the year of Christ 1297. Some say that Wallis was called off to this fight, not from the siege of Cowper but of Dundee, whither he also returned after the fight. So John Major and some books found in monasteries do relate.
16. By means of these combustions the fields lay untilled, insomuch that after that overthrow a famine ensued, and a pestilence after the famine, from whence a greater fear was apprehended than from the war. Wallis, to prevent this mischief as much as he could, called together all those who were fit for service to appear at a certain day, with whom he marched into England, thinking with himself that their bodies, being exercised with labour, would be more healthy, and that, wintring in an enemies country, provisions might be spared at home and the soldiers, who were in much want, might reap some fruit of their labours in a rich country and flourishing by reason of its continued peace. When he was entred into England no man dared to attack him, so that he staid there from the Calends of November to the Calends of February, and having refreshed and inriched his soldiers with the fruits and spoils of the enemy, he returned home with great renown. This expedition, as it increased the fame and authority of Wallis among the vulgar sort, so it heightned the envy of Nobles against him mightily. For his praise seemed a tacite exprobation to them, who, being men of great power and wealth, either out of slothfulness durst not, or out of perfidiousness would not attempt what he, as a mean man and destitute of all the advantages of fortune, had not only valiantly undertook but also successfully performed. Moreover the King of England, finding the business to be greater than could be well managed by his deputies, made some settlement of things in France and returned home, and gathering together a great army, but hastily levied (for he brought not back his veteran soldiers from beyond sea) and, for the most part, raw and unexperienced men, he marches toward Scotland, supposing he had only to do with a disorderly band of robbers. But when he saw both armies in battel array about 500 paces one from another in the plains of Stanmore, he admired the discipline, order and confidence of his enemies, so that, tho he himself had much the greater force, yet he durst not put it to the hazard of a battel against such a veteran and experienced a captain and against soldiers inured to all hardships, but turned his ensigns and marched slowly back. Wallace also durst not follow him for fear of ambushes, but kept his army within their trenches.
17. Having thus got the victory, tho bloodless, over so puissant a King, his enemies were so much the more enraged against him, and caused rumours to be scattered up and down that Wallis did openly affect a supream or tyrannical power. At which the Nobles, especially Bruce and the Cumins’s of the royal stock, did mightily disdain, for they said thus within themselves, that if they must be slaves, they had rather be so under a great and potent King than under an upstart whose domination was like to be not only base but also dangerous. And therefore they determined by all means to undermine the authority of Wallis. Edward was not ignorant of these disgusts, and therefor the next summer he levies a great army consisting partly of English, partly of Scots who had remained faithful to him, and came to Falkirk, which is a village built in the very tract of the Wall of Severus and is distant from Sterling little more than 6 miles. The Scots army were not far from them, of sufficient strength, for they were 30000, if the Generals and leaders had agreed amongst themselves. Their generals were John Cumins, John Stuart and William Wallice, the most flourishing persons amongst the Scots, the two former for their high descent and opulency, the later for the glory of his former exploits. When the three armies were ready to fight a new dispute arose besides their former envy, who should lead the van of the army. And when all three stood upon their terms, the English decided the controversie, who with banners displaid marched with a swift pace towards them. Cumins and his forces retreated without striking a stroke. Stuart, being beset before and behind, was slain with all that followed him. Wallace was sorely pressed upon in the front, and Bruce had fetched a compass about an hill and fell on his rear, yet he was a little disturbed as in such circumstances he could possibly be, but retreated beyond the River Carront wherby the interposal of the river he had opportunity to defend himself and also to gather up the straggling run-aways.
18. And Bruce desiring to speak with him, he assented thereunto. They two alone stood over against one another where the river hath the narrowest chanel and the highest banks. And first Bruce began and told Wallace he wondred what was in his mind that, being hurried on by the uncertain favour of the vulgar, he should expose himself to such assiduous and imminent danger against a King the most potent of that time, and who was also assisted by a great number of the Scots; and that to no purpose neither, for if he overcame Edward the Scots would never grant him the kingdom, and if himself were overcome he had no refuge but the mercy of his enemy. To whom Wallas replyed, “I never proposed that scope to my designs and labours as to obtain the kingdom of which my fortune is not capable, neither doth my mind aspire thereunto. But when I saw my countrymen by your slothfulness (to whom the kingdom doth rightfully appertain) destitute of governors and exposed not to the slavery only, but even to the butchery of a cruel enemy, I had pity on them and undertook the cause which you deserted; neither will I forsake the liberty, good and safety of my countrymen till life forsake me. You, who had rather chuse base servitude with security than honest liberty with hazard, follow and hug the fortune which you so highly esteem. As for me, I will willingly dye in my country which I have often defended, and my love to it shall remain as long as my life continues.” Thus the conference was broken off and each of them retired to their forces. This battel was fought the 11th of the Calends of August, wherein there fell of the Scots 10000, amongst whom of the Nobles were John Stuart, Macduff Earl of Fife, and of Wallis his army John Grame, the valiantest person of the Scots next to Wallis himself. Of the English were slane Frere Briangy, highly fam’d and notic’d for military skill.
19. After this unhappy fight Wallis came to Perth and dismissed his army, giving place to that envy which he could not resist, and from that day forward he never acted as a General, yet he ceased not, with a few of his friends who still stuck to him tho he renounced the name of a General, as often as a convenient opportunity was offered to press upon the English. Edward also, after he has wasted all the country beyond the Forth even unto Perth, receiving into his obedience all those who durst not, as long as he was present, make any insurrection, drew back his army. Those of the Scots who after the enemies departure did most study the liberty of their country, being a little heartned, made John Cumins Junior their Regent. He according to the advice of the Council sent embassadors to Philip Valois, King of France, to desire him that by the mediation of his sister, who was then betrothed to Edward, they might obtain at least a truce. By her endeavours a truce was obtained for seven months, which yet was not faithfully observed. For the English detained the embassadors which were sent to Boniface the 8th, and committed them to prison. In the mean time the Scots, who could neither bear the tyranny of the English, nor satisfie the cruel mind of Edward by their punishments, nor yet obtain an equal peace with him, with obstinate minds and in despair of pardon resolved to fight it out to the utmost. First of all they expel all Edward’s governors who were English from all towns and castles; next they afflict the Scots of their faction as much as ever they could. Things remained in this posture almost two years, and then Edward sent Ralph Confray with great forces to subdue the robbers (as he called them) and to make an end of the war. They met with no opposition but preyed far and near till they came to Roslin (a place in Lothian about 5 miles distant from Edinburgh), and there they divided their army into three parts to make the greater havock, and so pitched their tents. John Cumins, with the assistance of John Frazer, the most potent man in all Tivedale, gathered 8000 men together and marched towards the enemy, thinking to abridge the limits of their plundering excursions or otherwise, if an happy opportunity offered itself for action, not to be wanting to fortune. And indeed he met with a fairer occasion than he hoped for.
20. For the English, little expecting an assault from an enemy that they had so often conquered and brought so low, lived more stragglingly than they ought to have done in an enemies country, so that their first camp was soon taken by the suddain coming of the Scots, and a great slaughter made. They who escaped carried the noise into the next camp. they in a great fear cryed out Arm, Arm, and they all exhorted one another to succor their fellow-soldiers; but, perceiving that the designed succor was too late, they prepared for revenge. A fierce fight was commenced betwixt them, as men eager and desirous of victory and revenge. At last the English were routed and put to flight, and the victory, tho’ a bloody one, remained to the Scots. In the mean time, the third camp, who was farther off, came and occasioned some terror to the Scots. For in regard many of them were wounded and the greatest part wearied with the toil of a double fight, they saw that there was imminent danger in fighting, and assured destruction in flying away. At length, by the command of their leaders, they slew all the prisoners lest, while they were busied with their enemies, they should rise up and set upon them in the rear, and, arming their servants with the spoils of the slain, they made a show of a greater army than indeed they were. Hereupon the battel was begun and fiercely carried on by both parties. the fight being a long time doubtful, the Scots by the encouragement of their leaders, putting them in mind of their double victory, took fresh courage and charged the enemy with such violence that they broke their ranks and put them to flight. This fight was at Roslin, the 6th of the Calends of March in the year 1302.
21. As the victory was more famous, being obtained by but one army over three in one and the same day, so it mightily incensed the mind of Edward. To blot out the ignominy and to put an end at length to a long lasting war, he therefore levies an army bigger than ever he had before, and assaulted Scotland both by sea and land, and made spoil of it even unto the uttermost borders of Ross, no man daring to oppose so great a force. Only Wallis and his men, sometimes in the front, sometimes in the rear, sometimes in the flanks, would snap either those that rashly went befor, or that loitered after, or that in plundering straggled too far from their fellows, neither did he suffer them to stray far from their colours. Edward sought by great promises to bring him over to his party, but his constant tone was that he had devoted his life to his country, to which it was due, and if he could do it no other service, yet he would dye in its defence. There were some castles yet remaining not surrendred to the English, as Urchart in Murray, which were taken by storm and all the defendants put to the sword, whereupon the rest surrendred themselves for fear. After these exploits the English King joyned his son Edward, whom he had left at Perth, and by the accession of his forces he besieged Sterling, which after a months siege he took, the garison therein being reduced to the want of all things; the conditions were only life and liberty. And yet William Oliver the Governor of the Castle, against the tenor of his articles or surrender, was detain’d and sent prisoner into England.
22. When all Scotland was reduced, an assembly of the States was indicted by Edward to be held at St. Andrews, where all, out of fear, took an oath of allegiance to him except Wallis alone; and, fearing he should be given up by the Nobility (who were much disgusted at him) to Edward his mortal enemy, he retired himself into his old fastnesses and lurking holes. Edward, having appointed governours and magistrates over all Scotland, returned into England. But at his departure he shewed an evident demonstration of his great hatred against the Scotish race, for he was not content only with the taking with him all those whom he feared would raise new seditions, but he endeavoured as much as he could to abolish the old laws and set up the ecclesiastical state and ceremonies according to the manner of England. He caused all histories, leagues and ancient monuments either left by the Romans or erected by the Scots to be destroyed. He carried all the books and all that were teachers of learning into England. He sent also to London an un-polished marble stone wherein it was vulgarly reported and believed that the fate of the kingdom was contained. Neither did he leave any thing behind him which either upon the account of its memory might excite generous spirits to the remembrance of their ancient fortune and condition, or indeed which could excite them to any true greatness of mind, so that, having broken their spirits (as he thought) as well as their force and cast them into a servile dejection, he promised himself a perpetual peace with Scotland. At his return he left Ailmer Valentine as his Regent or Vice-King, who was to nip all seditious attempts, if any did break forth, in the very bud.
23. Yet a new war sprang up against him from whence he little thought. There were some of the prime Nobility in Scotland with Edward, as Robert Bruce, the son of him who contended with Baliol for the kingdom, and John Cumins, sirnamed Red from the colour of his face, cousin german to John Baliol, the last King of Scotland. Edward called them often to him apart and put them severally in a vain hope of the kingdom,and so he made use of their assistance in the conquering of Scotland. But at the last they discovered the mockery and cheat, so that each of them desired nothing more than a fit occasion to revenge the perfidiousness of that King. But in regard they were corrivals their mutual suspicion kept them back from communicating their counsels one to another. At last Cumins, perceiving that matters as managed by Edward were distasteful to Bruce, he spake to him and, taking his rise from the beginning of their miseries, deplored much the lamentable condition of their country and greatly inveighed against the falseness of Edward, withal grievously accusing himself and Bruce too that they had by their labour and assistance helped to cast their country-men into this abyss of misery. After this first discourse they proceeded further and, each of them promising silence, they agreed that Bruce should enjoy the kingdom and Cumins should wave his right thereto, but instead thereof that he should enjoy all those large and fruitful possessions which Bruce had in Scotland and, in a word, that he should be the second man in the kingdom. Those covenants were writ down, sealed and sworn betwixt themselves. Hereupon Bruce, watching an opportunity to rise in arms, left his wife and children in Scotland and went to the Court in England. After his departure Cumins (as ’tis reported), either repenting himself of his agreement or else endeavouring fraudulently to remove his corrival and so obtain an easier way to the kingdom, betrayed their secret combination to Edward, and in verification thereof he sent him the covenants signed by them both. Hereupon Bruce was impleaded [indicted] as guilty of high treason. He was forbid to depart the Court and a privy guard set over him to inspect his words and actions. The Kings delay to punish him in a crime so manifest proceeded from a desire he had to take his brethren too before they had heard any bruit of his execution.
24. In the mean time Bruce was informed by the Earl of Montgomery, his grandfathers old friend, of his sudden danger, who dared not to commit his advice for his flight to writing, being discouraged by Bruce his example, but he sent him a pair of guilt spurs and some pieces of gold, as if he had borrowed them of him the day before. Robert, upon the receipt of the gift, as dangers make men sagacious, soon smelt out what his meaning was, so that he sent for a smith in the night and commanded him to set on shoos on three horses the backward way, so that his flight might not be traced by the mark of the horses feet, snow being on the ground, and the same night he and two other companions began their journy and, man and horse being extreamly tired, in seven days he came to his castle scituate by Loch Maban. There he joyned David his brother and Robert Fleming, to whom he had scarce declared the cause of his flight before he lighted upon a flying post who was conveighing letters from Cumins to Edward. The contents were that Robert should speedily be put to death; that there was danger in delay, lest a man so nobly descended and so popular as he, adding boldness to his wisdom too, should raise new commotions. The perfidiousness of Cumins being thus (as well as otherwise) plainly detected, Robert was inflamed with anger and rode presently to Dumfreiz, where his adversary John Cumins was in the Franciscans church. Whom he confronted with his own letters, which he then shewed him, he very impudently denied them to be his, but Robert, no longer able to bridle his wrath, run him into the belly with his dagger and so left him for dead. As he was mounting his horse, James Lindsay and Roger Kirkpatrick, one his kinsman, the other his old friend, perceiving by his countenance that he was troubled, asked him the cause. He told them in brief the whole business, adding withal that he thought he had killed Cumins. “What (says Lindsay), will you leave a matter of that consequence upon an I thought?” And assoon as he had spoke the word he ran into the church and dispatched him quite, and also his kinsman Robert Cumins, who endeavoured to save him. This murder was committed in the year 1305 on the fourth of the Ides of February.
25. About the same time also, Wallis was betrayed in the county of Glascow (where he then hid himself) by his own familiar friend John Menteath, whom the English had corrupted with money, and so was sent to London, where by Edwards command he was wofully butchered and his limbs, for the terrour of others, hanged up in the most noted places of London and Scotland. Such an end had this person, the famousest man of his time, who deserved to be compared with the most renowned captains of ancient times both for his greatness of mind in undertaking dangers and for his wisdom and valour in overcoming them. For love of his country he was second to none; who, when others were slaves, he alone was free, neither could be induced by rewards or threats to forsake the publick cause which he had once undertaken. His death was the more to be lamented because he was not conquered by his enemy but betrayed by his friend, who had little reason so to do.
26. BRUCE, THE NINETY SEVENTH KING
Bruce stayed so long till he had obtained pardon from the Pope for killing a man in holy church, and then in April following, anno Domini 1306, he went to Scone and was crowned King. The first thing he did, knowing that he had to do with a powerful enemy, was to levy all the force he could make; but in regard the whole family of the Cumins’s (whose greatness was never equalled by any in Scotland, either before or since) was against him, and also the minds of many were offended with him for his former assisting of the English; and moreover most of the Scots were out of fear willing to be quiet under the English power, he adventured with a small army to try his fortune at Methven, where he was overthrown by Ailmer, Edwards General, but with little slaughter, because his men, seeing their own weakness, fled away entire almost at the first charge. This was done on the 13th of the Calends of August. And not long after, coming to Athol and designing for Argyle, his design was discovered by the Cumins’s and he was forced in his very first march, at a place called Dalree, i. e., Kings-land, to try his fortune in a battel, where he was overthrown also, but lost few in regard every one fled several ways as they thought fit. After that time he had but two or three in his company, for he thought himself more secure with a few, and thus he wandred up and down in secret places, living mostly a foresters life and in despair of any aid if he had a mind again to try his fortune. For the vulgar, upon his double discomfiture, drew thence discouraging omens, and so they all left him. Only two of his old friends, Malcolm Earl of Lennox and Gilbert Hay, never forsook him, but remained constant to him in all misfortunes. The English, not yet satiated with his miseries, send about through all parts of the kingdom to apprehend his allies and kinred; and besides, they commanded all the wives and children of those who were banished to depart the kingdom at a time prefixed. The wife of Robert himself was taken by William Earl of Ross and sent into England, and Neile his brother, with his wife and children, came into the hands and power of the English, hIs Castle at Kildrummy being betrayed by the governor thereof to them. Moreover, his brethren Thomas and Alexander, endeavouring to pass out of Galway to Carick, were taken at Loch Ryan (which Ptolemy calls the bay Rerigonius) and sent into England. These three were put to death in several places. The rest of the Brucian party were diligently sought after and put also to death, and their estates confiscate.
27. The King himself with one or two, and sometimes alone, wandred up and down through uncouth places, daily, yea hourly changing his recesses. And yet even thus not thinking himself safe enough from the cruelty of his enemies and the perfidiousness of his subjects, he passed over to another friend of his into the Aebudae, where he lurked for some months. And in regard he did no where appear, he was thought to be dead and so they left searching for him. This report, as it made for his safety, so, if it had continued long, it would have taken away all hopes from his friends of his ever obtaining and recovering the kingdom. Whereupon he judged it fit to attempt something, and receiving a small force from his friends where he had hid himself, he sailed over into Carick, and by means of his sudden coming there he surprized a castle which was his own inheritance but garisoned by a strong party of English, whom he put all to the sword. And, lest his passage might be stopped by the enemy, he passed over by the bay of Clyde and came to the strong Castle of Ennerness, situate on a pretty high hill by the River Ness which, as being in a remote country and negligently guarded, he also happily took. The report hereof being divulged occasioned great thoughts of heart all over Scotland. For besides his old friends, who came to him from all places out of their lurking holes, the pride of the English had raised him up many new ones. for they, thinking that he had been dead, began to lord it more imperiously and cruelly than ever they had done before, so that, his forces being considerably encreased, and that with very good soldiers whom either labour had hardned or despair urged to the most desperate attempts, he took all the castles in the North of Scotland and demolished them as they were taken, partly that he might not weaken his forces by dividing them into garisons, and partly that the enemy might have no harbour there.
28. Thus, overcoming all as he went, he came into the very heart of the kingdom. John Cumins, Earl of Buchan, being informed thereof, gathered together a suddain company of Scots and English, even as many as were able to bear arms. When he was come to the forest through which the River Esk falls down into the plains of Mern he overtook him at a place called Glenesk. Bruce, perceiving that the narrowness of the passages was advantageous for his men, stood ready to fight, expecting his enemy. Cumins drew out his army in length, imagining that Bruce would be astonished at the sight of such a multitude. But when he saw that he stirred not from the place, and being also conscious of the weakness of his men, he durst not draw them forth into a place of greater disadvantage. Hereupon he first sent a herald to Bruce for a truce, wherein they might treat of terms of peace. The truce being obtained, Cumins made no mention of peace but encreas’d his forces as much as ever he could, neither would he trust the Scots that were with him (the favour of many of them inclining to Robert), but craved aid from England. In the mean time Bruce, to remove the contemptible opinion which the English might conceive of him and to encourage the spirits of his friends, was always nibbling at his enemies heels, here taking some, there others, and surprizing their weakest garisons. He never staid long in a place, neither gave he opportunity to the enemy to fight him.
29. But about this time Simon Frazer and Walter Logan, brave soldiers both and lovers of their country, were taken by some of the Cuminian faction, delivered over to the English, and put to death at London. And almost about the same time James Douglas joined himself with Bruce his party. He was the son of William, a young man passing well instructed in the Liberal Arts, who, when he was studying at Paris, hearing that his father was cast into prison by the English, where he soon after died, returned home to receive the advice of his friends how he might order the residue of his life. But, being deprived of his patrimony and all his friends variously dispersed, in great want he repaired to William Lambert, Bishop of St. Andrews, by whom he was admitted as one of his family and kindly entertained until King Edward came to besiege Sterlin after he had conquered almost all Scotland besides. Lambert, going thither to salute the King, carried Douglas along with him, and having gotten a fit opportunity, he spake to the King to restore his patrimony, to take him into his protection, and to make use of his faithful endeavours in his service; some other things he also added in praise of the young man. The King, hearing of his name and family, spake very roughly concerning the stubbornness of William his father, withal adding that he intended not to make any use of his son nor of any assistance of his, and as for his paternal estate, he could not restore it if he would, because he had gratified his friends with it who had merited well of him. James, being thus dismissed by the King, stayed with Lambert till Bruce came to Merne. And then, that might he omit no occasion to prejudice Edward (whose mind, he found, was implacably bent against him), he took away Lamberts horses and some money, not without his privity, and came to Bruce, and his service was of great use to him in many sharp storms afterwards.
30. Not long after, both Kings almost in the same moment of time fell grievously sick. Edward, being busie in preparations for war against Scotland, died within a few days at Lancaster, leaving his second son, Edward, for his heir, who was called Edward of Carnavon from the place where he was born. He, marching into his enemies country with the army which his father had recruited, sent a proclamation before to Dumfriez that all the Scots should meet him there, but there came in but a few, and those out of the neighbouring parts, and very heavily too. He, being also informed that his matters beyond the sea went not well on, left a force such as he thought sufficient to quell the insurrection in Scotland and, settling things as soon as he could, he passed over into France. In the interim Robert, hearing of Edward’s death, was somewhat relieved and began to hope better of his affairs, and so the strength of his mind supported his weak body. But, not being ignorant how much the sole conduct of a General might contribute to a victory, he so prepared himself for the extreme push of fortune that he expected his enemy and a battel. On the other side, the English King coming back more slowly than his friends hoped, John Cumins, being greedy of the glory that the war was ended by him, hoping also that Robert was dead by reason of his sore disease added to his other hardships, or at least that his sickness would hinder him from being present in the army, gathered together all the forces he could make and marched directly towards his enemy. On the other side, Robert, to encourage his men, caused himself to be set on horseback. His very sight, tho’ he was supported by two men and could not stay long, yet gave such heart to his men that they never began any fight more courageously than they did that. Cumins, who had placed the hope of his victory in the sickness of his enemy, being not able to keep his men together neither by persuasions nor punishments, was forced to fly away in their company. Many were taken in the pursuit, and all courteously used.
31. This victory gotten at Ennerury, as it recovered the King from his disease, so it was the omen of his future prosperous proceedings, for from that day forward he succeeded in all that he attempted. A while after, he marched into the country of Argyle, which he pillaged, and forced Alexander, the lord of it, to a surrender, who, retiring into England, in a little time there ended his miserable life in great want The same year, the day before the Calends of July, Edward Bruce also had prosperous success at a battel fought at Die, a river of Galway. Rolland, a noble knight of Galway, was slain in the fight. Donald the Islander was taken prisoner as he was flying away, and the whole country of Galway was wasted far and near. These tumults rouz’d up Edward (who was rather desirous to live in peace) to a war even against his will, for, perceiving that his affairs were ill-managed, he the next year with a great army of English entred Scotland and there joyned a numerous body of Scots who had not yet revolted from the English. With those forces he pierced as far as Ranfrow, and then retreated, having performed no memorable act in his expedition, either because he himself was of a dull and unactive nature, or else because Robert (besides the scarcity which did then generally afflict all Scotland) had caused all the provisions to be carried away from those places thro which his army was to march, and had laid them up more out of the way. After his departure, Robert spent the rest of the year in recovering those castles which the English yet held, of which many surrendred before they were besieged, as despairing of any help from England. The next year, which was 1310, Bruce, to cry quits with the English for the damage they had done in Scotland, marched twice into England with his army and returned back laden with spoils, without any encounter at all. The next two years he recovered almost all the strong garisons which yet remained in the hands of the English. He took Perth by storm and put all the garison soldiers both English and Scots promiscuously to the sword, and, that others might be deterred from the like obstinacy by their example, he razed their walls and filled up their trenches. The terror of that example caused Dumfriez, Lanerick, Air and Bote, and many other weaker forts to surrender. At the beginning of the spring Roxburgh was taken by James Douglas, when the garison was intent upon their sports and pastimes in those revels which were wont to be celebrated at the beginning of Lent. And not long after Thomas Randolph recovered the strong Castle of Edinburgh. The Isle of Man was also surrendered and the castles thereof demolished, that they might not again be a receptacle to the enemy.
32. In the mean time Edward Bruce closely besieged the Castle of Sterlin, scituate on a rock, steep every way but one, where the passage to it lay. It was defended by Philip Mowbray, a vigilant commander who, perceiving the success of the Brucians in Scotland and foreseeing a siege, had mightily stored and fortified it with arms and provisions before hand. And therefore when Edward had fruitlessly spent many days in besieging it and had no hopes of carrying it by force, that he might not seem to be repulsed without doing any thing he enters into conditions with Mowbray, that if he was not relieved in a year, to commence that very day, by the English, then the Castle was to be surrendred and the garison should have liberty, bag and baggage, to march whither they pleased. These conditions did much displease the King, yet that he might not detract from his brothers credit he resolved to observe them. Yet in regard he did not doubt but that the English would come at the time appointed, he prepares, as much as in so great a scarcity of things he was able, to manage his last encounter with his potent enemy. And indeed Edward, considering that he was not only dispossessed of Scotland, whose people his father had left to him conquered and broken, but that England was also in danger, had a desire to root out so rebellious, disobedient and unquiet a nation. In order whereunto, he levied an army, not only of English and such Scots who adhered to him, but he increased it by supplys from his transmarine dominions (which then were many, great and opulent), so that his army was bigger than ever any King of England had before. Yea, he received also an accession force from his allyes beyond the seas, especially from Flanders and Holland, whom his father had strenuously assisted against Philip, King of France. They say it consisted of above 100000 fighting men. There followed also his army a multitude of baggagers, attendants and sutlers who carried provision both by sea and land, because they were to come into a country not very fruitful of it self, and besides, which had so many years before been harassed with all the miseries of war. Moreover, there was a multitude of such as were to set out or describe colonies and to receive dividends of land, who brought their wives and children along with them, so that the force of so rich, powerful and flourishing a kingdom as England was being thus, as it were, abridged and epitomized into one army, the consideration thereof produced such a confidence in them all that now all the discourse was not of fighting, but rather of dividing the spoil.
33. Bruce, hearing of this great preparation of the enemy, prepares also his forces, far inferiour in number to so great a multitude as being thirty thousand only, but such as were inured to hardships and the toyl of a civil war, and who now carried the hopes of their lives, fortunes, and of all that is dear to men, as it were, on the point of their swords. With this army he sate down on the left bank of the River Bannock. This river hath steep banks on both sides, and it had but a few, and those too narrow, passages or fords. It is about two miles from Sterlin. Below the hills, before it makes its influxe into the Forth it passeth thro a little leveller ground, yet here and there it is marshy. In the winter it usually runs with a rapid torrent, but in that hot time of the year the water was but low and fordable in many places. Bruce, by now much the weaker in force, was so much the more circumspect, and therefore he used art and policy to make the passage over the river more difficult to the English, who possessed the right-hand bank thereof. In order whereunto, he caused deep trenches to be dug in level places, wherein he fastened sharp stakes or spikes and covered them with some light turffs a-top, so that his stratagem might not be discovered; and moreover he caused calthrops of iron to be thrown up and down in places most convenient. Wherefore, when camp was almost joyned to camp, as being on different hills, only a small river between them, Edward sent 800 horse a little before to Sterlin, who marched a little off from the camp. Robert, imagining that they were sent to plunder in the neighbourhood, gave command to Thomas Randolph to follow them with 500 horse, either to prevent the stragglers in wasting the country or, if a fit occasion were offered, to fight them. The English, seeing them, desisted from their intended march to Sterlin and faced about. The fight was sharp and continued long, the victory inclining for a time to neither party, so that James Douglas, being concerned for the Scots, who were the fewer in number, earnestly desired Bruce that he might go and relieve them. Bruce peremptorily denied him, whereupon, tho’ at present a spectator only from an hill, yet he resolved if the Scots were further distressed to succour them. But perceiving the English to give back and the Scots to get ground, he stopped his march so that he might detract no thing from another mans praise. The English, having lost but those few out of so numerous an army, were not discouraged in their spirits, and also the Scots prepared themselves for the encounter the next day, as if they had already received an omen of a compleat victory. The night, tho very short (for the battel was fought on the 9th of the Calends of July), yet seemed long to both parties for the eagerness they had to fight.
34. All the Scots were divided into three brigades. The King led the middle or main battel, his brother commanded the right wing, and Randolf the left. The English, besides a multitude of archers which they placed on the outside of both their wings, had also curiassiers [armed knights] out of France. They speeding towards Randolf, who stood on the lower ground, and endeavouring to fall obliquely on his flank, fell suddainly into the ditches made by Bruce, where they tumbled one upon another with greater slaughter both of man and horse. They that first fell in were slain by the pressure of those that fell upon them, and the last ranks, being discouraged at the loss of the first, retreated back. This terror did also somewhat retard the foot, for they were afraid of falling into the like snares. There also did happen another accident which, tho little in itself, yet contributed very much (as such niceties are wont to do in war) to the main chance. Robert rode up and down before his army to keep them in their ranks, having a batoon in his hands. A certain Englishman knew him and ran at him with his spear. The king avoided the blow, and as the horse in his carrier ran a little beyond him, struck his rider dead with his batoon, and down he tumbled from his horse to the ground. The common soldiers highly commended the perilous audacity of the King, and were hardly kept in by their commanders but hand over head would rush upon the enemy with such an eagerness of mind that they were likely to break their enemies ranks unless the English archers, who were placed in their wings, had repulsed them with great loss, and Bruce also sent in some troops of horse who drove them back. Let in this action a mistake did more prejudice to the English than their enemy did. The rabble-rout which followed the camp caused the baggage-men to mount their draught horses and to hang out some linen cloth instead of ensigns. Thus they stood on an hill where they might easily be seen and made an appearance of a new army. The English who stood nearest were surprized with a double fear and betook themselves to their heels. their fear disordered the rest of the army. A multitude of common soldiers were slain in the pursuit. Some of our writers say that fifty thousand English fell at that fight. Caxton, an Englishman, doth not set down the precise number, but says it was a mighty overthrow, an innumerable multitude being slain. And he did well in not being positive in the number, for it was hard to count it in regard the flight was so scattered, wherein more perished than in the battel. This is certain, the slaughter was so great that the English, tho they had many provocations from the Scots,yet did not stir for two or three years after. Of the English Nobility, there fell about two two hundred, and almost an equal number were taken prisoners. The prisoners related that the King himself began to fly first, and if he had not been received into the Castle of Dunbar by the Earl of March, and so sent in a skiff by water to Berwick, he had not escaped the hands of Douglas, who with 400 horse pursued him forty miles. Amongst the prisoners was taken a monk, one of those who are called Carmelites from Mount Carmel in Syria. He was accounted a good poet for that age, and was brought into the army to celebrate the victory of the English in a poem. But they being beaten, he sung their overthrow in a canto (for which he had his liberty). His verse was rude and barbarous, yet it did not altogether displease the ears of the men of that age. Neither was the victory unbloody to the Scots. They lost above four thousand men, amongst whom there were but two knights. Hereupon Sterlin Castle was surrendred according to compact, and the garison sent away.
35. About these times here happened a passage not unworthy to be related in regard of the variety of providences in a narrow compass of time. John Mentieth, who betrayed his friend Wallis to the English and was therefore worthily hated by the Scots, received, amongst other rewards, the government of the Castle of Dumbritton from the English. When other forts were recovered, that it only, or but a very few with it, held out for the English. And because it was naturally impregnable, the King dealt with the governor by his friends and kindred to surrender it. He demanded the country or Earldom of Lennox as the price of this treachery and surrender, neither would he ever so much as hear of any other terms. In this case the King did waver and fluctuate in his mind what to do: on the one side, he earnestly desired to have the Castle, yet on the other he did not so much prize it as for its sake to disoblige the Earl of Lennox, who had been his fast and almost his only friend in all his calamities. But the Earl of Lennox, hearing of it and coming in, soon decided the controversie and persuaded the King by all means to accept the condition. Hereupon the bargain was made as John Mentieth would have it, and solemnly confirmed. But when the King was going to take possession of the Castle, a carpenter, one Rolland, met him in the wood of Cholcon about a mile from it, and having obtained liberty to speak with the King concerning a matter of great importance, he told him what treachery the governor did intend against him; yea, and had prepared to execute it. It was this: in a wine-cellar concealed and under ground a sufficient number of Englishmen were hid who, when the rest of the Castle was given up and the King secure, were to issue forth upon him as he was at dinner, and either to kill or take him prisoner. Hereupon the King, upon the surrender of the other parts of the Castle by John, being kindly invited to a feast, refused to eat till, as he had searched all other parts of the Castle, so he had viewed that wine-cellar also. The governor excused it, pretending that the smith who had the key was out of the way, but that he would come again anon. The King, not satisfied therewith, caused the door to be broken open, and so the plot was discovered. The English were brought forth in their armour, and being severally examined, confessed the whole matter, and they added also another discovery, viz., that a ship rode ready in the next bay to carry the King into England. The complices in this wicked design were put to death, but John was kept in prison because the King was loth to offend his kindred, and especially his sons in law, in so dangerous a time. For he had many daughters, all of them very beautiful and married to men rich enough but factious. Therefore in a time of such imminent danger, the battel drawing near wherein all was at stake, lest the mind of any powerful man might be rendred averse from him and thereby inclined to practise against him, John was released out of prison upon this condition (for the performance whereof his sons in law undertook), that he should be placed at the front of the battel, and there by his valour should wait the decision of Providence. And indeed the man, otherwise fraudulent, was in this as good as his word, for he behaved himself so valiantly that the days work procured him not only pardon for what was past, but large rewards for the future.
36. The fame of this victory being divulged all over Britain did not only abate the fierceness of the English, but raised up the Scots even from extream desperation, supplying them not only with money, but with glory and arms and other furniture for war. Neither did they only release their own men who were made prisoners either in fight or upon surrenders, but also they raised great sums by the redemption of the English they had taken. And out of the spoils many recompensed and made up the losses they had received in former times, yea, and got great estates too for the future. for the English came with all their precious things, not as to a war but as to an assured victory. The King, having thus prosperously succeeded in the war, spent the following winter in settling the state of the kingdom, which was much weakened by so long a war, and also in bestowing rewards on the well deserving. The next spring, Berwick was taken from the English, after they had enjoyed it 20 years. In the next place, he convened an assembly of the Estates at Air, a town of Kyle. There in a full assembly, by the suffrages of all the Orders, the kingdom was confirmed to Bruce. And afterwards, because the King had but one only daughter left by his former wife, the States, remembring what publick mischiefs had happened by the dispute which in former times had been managed concerning the right of succession, made a decrees that if the King left no male issue, his brother Edward should succeed him in the kingdom, and his sons in order after him. But if he should also decease without issue male, then the crown was to descend to Mary, the daughter of Robert, and to her posterity, yet so that the Nobility were to provide her an husband fit for her royal estate and for the succession of the kingdom. For it was lookt upon as far more just that a husband should be chosen for the young lady than that she should chuse an husband for her self and a King for the whole land. It was also decreed that in the minority of the King Thomas Randolfe, or, if he should miscarry, James Douglas, should be Tutors to the King and Governors of the kingdom.
37. The fame of Robert’s noble exploits both at home and abroad excited the Irish to send ambassadors to him to put themselves and their kingdom under his protection. And if his domestick affairs should not suffer him to accept of the kingdom himself, yet that he would permit his brother Edward to it, that so a nation allied to him might no longer suffer under the cruel, insulting and intolerable domination and servitude of the English. The Irish wrote also to the Pope to the same purpose, and he by his missives desired the English to forbear wronging and oppressing the Irish, but in vain, so that Edward Bruce went thither with a great army, and by universal consent was saluted King. In the first year of his arrival he drove the English out of all Ulster and reduced it to his obedience; yea, he passed over the rest of the island with his victorious army. The next year a new army was sent over from England. Robert, perceiving that the war would grow hotter, levied new forces and made haste over to his brother. He suffered much in that expedition by his want of provision, and when he was but about one days march from him he heard that he and all his men were defeated the third of the Nones of October. The report is that Edward, edged on [egged on] by too much desire for glory, did precipitate the fight lest his brother should share with him in the glory of the victory. The King of England, being informed that the flower of the militia of Scotland did attend Bruce in a foreign country and thinking this a fit opportunity offered him to revenge the losses of former times, sent a great army under select commanders into Scotland. Douglas, Governor of the Borders, fought with them thrice in several places and slew almost all their commanders and a great part of the souldiers. The English, having sped ill with their land army, came into the Forth with a naval force, in which their power was particularly strong, and infested all the sea coasts by their excursions. The Earl of Fife sent 500 horse to restrain the plunderers, but they, not daring to encounter so great a multitude, in their retreat met with William Sinclare, Bishop of the Caledonians, accompanied with about 60 horse, who perceiving their cowarize, cried out, “All you that wish well to Scotland, follow me,” and thereupon, catching up a lance, they all cheerfully followed him, and he made so brisk an assault on the scattered plunderers that they fled hastily to their ships. And whilst they all endeavoured to get aboard, one ship, overladen with passengers, was sunk and all that were in it drowned. This attempt of Sinclare’s was so grateful to the King that ever after he called him his bishop.
38. That summer, when all the English counties bordering on the Scots lay desolate and unmanured by reason of want of provision (diseases also abounding amongst all sorts of tame animals and cattle), as also by frequent invasions, to remedy this inconvenience Edward came to York, but there he was not able to compleat an army by reason of the paucity of the inhabitants, so that the Londoners and the parts adjoining were fain to supply him with soldiers, tho many of them had their passes and discharges from all military service before. At length he made up an army and marches to besiege Berwick. He was scarce arrived there when Thomas Randolfe passed over the River Solway and marched another way into England, where he wasted all with fire and sword, no man resisting him; yea, in some places he could hardly meet with any man at all. for a plague which reigned the former year had made such a devastation that the face of things seemed very piteous even to their very enemies. When the Scots had marched above 100 miles and had fired all, especially about York, the Archbishop thereof, more for the indignity of the thing than the confidence of his force, took arms. He gathered together an army numerous enough but raw and undisciplined, consisting of a promiscuous company of priests, artificers and country-labourers, whom he led with more boldness than conduct against his invaders; but, being overcome by them, he lost many of his men, and he with some few saved themselves by flight. There was so great a slaughter of priests made there that the English for a long time afterwards called that battel the White Battel. Edward, hearing of this overthrow, lest his conquering enemy should make further and greater attempts, brake up his siege and retreats to York (the Scots having withdrawn themselves) and from thence into the heart of his kingdom.
39. The English were busied with domestick tumults so that a short truce was made rather because both Kings were tired with the war than otherwise any whit desirous of a pacification. In this calm, Robert indicts a convention of all the Estates and Nobility. And because the changes happening in so long a war had confounded the rights of mens possessions, he commanded every one to produce and shew by what title he held his estate. This matter was equally grievous to the old possessors as well as the new. Valiant men thought they enjoyed that by a good right which they had taken from their enemies, and they took it much amiss that what they had got as the price of their military toil, yea, of their blood too, should be rent from them in times of peace. As for the old owners of estates, seeing was no one house, almost, but had suffered in the war, they had lost their deeds by which they held their lands, as well as their other goods. Whereupon they all entred upon a project, valiant in appearance but bold and temerarious [rash] in the event. For when the King in the Parliament commanded them to produce their titles, every one drew his sword and cried out “We carry our titles in our right hands.” The King, being amazed at this sudden and surprising spectacle, though he took the matter very heinously, yet he stifled his indignation for the present until a fit time for revenge. And it was not long before an occasion was offered him to shew it. Divers of the Nobles, being conscious to themselves of the audacity of their late attempt and fearing to be punished for it, conspire together to betray the kingdom to the English. The fact was discovered to the King, and that so plainly that the letters declaring the manner, time and place were intercepted, and their crime made evident. Whereupon they were all taken and brought to the King, without any tumult at all raised at their apprehension. And because it was much feared that William Souls, Governor of Berwick, would deliver up both town and Castle to the English before the conspiracy was publickly divulged, he made a journy thither, as it were, by the by. A convention was made at Perth to try the prisoners, where the letters were produced and every ones seal known; being convicted of high-treason by their own confession, they were put to death. The chief were David Brechin and William Lord Souls of the Nobility, also Gilbert Mayler, Richard Brown and John Logie; besides, there were many others of all Orders accused, but there being only suspicion against them, they were dismissed. The death of David Brechin only did diversly affect mens minds; for, besides that he was the son of the Kings sister, he was accounted the prime young man of his age for all arts both of peace and war. He had given evident proofs of his valour in Syria in the Holy War. He, being summoned in by the popular conspirators, never gave his consent to the treason, only his crime was that, being made acquainted with so foul a machination, he did not discover it. The body of Roger Mowbray, who dyed before conviction, was condemned to all kind of ignominy, but the King remitted that punishment and caused it to be buried.
40. Some few months before this process was had, the Popes Legates, who at the request of the English came to compose the dissensions betwixt the kingdoms, not being able to do any thing therein, lest they might seem to have done nothing for the English in their legation excommunicated the Scots and forbad them the use of publick divine service (the Popes thunderbolts being terrible in those days). Bruce, to show how little he valued the Popes curses in an unjust cause, gathered an army and invaded England, following the Legate at his departure almost at his very heels. There he made a foul havock with fire and sword, and came as far as the cross at Stanmore. The English, not to suffer so great ignominy to pass unrevenged, levied so numerous an army that they promised themselves an easy victory even without blood. Robert thought it dangerous to run the hazard of all in a battel against the mighty army of so great a King, but rather he resolved to help out the matter with policy rather than force. He drave all the cattle into the mountains whither armies could not, without great difficulty, ascend, and all other things of use for an army he caused either to be reposited in fortify’d places or to be wholly spoiled. The English, who came thither in hopes of a speedy battel and had not provisions for a long march, when they perceived what devastation was made in their own country were inflamed with anger, hatred and desire of revenge, and resolved to pierce into the middst of Scotland and to ferret the King out of his boroughs; yea, and force him to a fight tho’ against his will. For the greatness of his forces did encourage him to hope that either he should blot out his former ignominy by an eminent victory, or else should recompense his loss lately received by an enlarged depopulation. With this resolution he came in all hast to Edinburgh; he spared churches only in his march, but the further he was to go the more scarcity he was like to find, so that in five days time he was forced to retreat. At his return he spoiled all things both sacred and prophane. He burnt the monasteries of Driburgh and Mulross and killed those old monks whom either weakness or confidence in their old age had caused to stay there. As soon as Bruce was informed that Edward was returned for want of provision, and that diseases did rage in his army, so that he had lost more men than if he had been overcome in battel, he almost trod upon his heels with an army noted more for the goodness than the number of soldiers, and came as far as York, making grievous havock as he went. He had almost taken the King himself by an unexpected assault at the monastery of Biland, where Edward in a tumultuary battel was put to flight, all his household-stuff, money, bag and baggage being taken. To blot out the ignominy of this infamous fight Andrew Berkley, Earl of Carlisle, was a while after accused as if he had been bribed to betray the English, and so he lost his life in punishment for the cowardize of another man.
41. The next year a double embassy was sent, one to the Pope to reconcile him to the Scots, from whom he had been alienated by the calumnies of the English, and another to renew the ancient league with the French. They both easily obtained what they desired. for when the Pope understood that the controversy arose by the injury and default of Edward the First, who affirmed that the King of Scots ought to obey, as a feudatary, the King of England, and that the English had nothing to defend their claim by but old fables and late injuries, and besides that, in prosperity, being summoned by the Pope they always avoided an equal decision of things, tho in their adversity they were always humble suiters to him for his aid; and, on the other side, the Scots always were willing to have their cause heard, and never shunned the determination of an equal judge nor the arbitration of any good men; and moreover when they produced many grants and summons of former Popes which made for them and against their enemies; the Scots were always present at the day, and the English, tho’ they had notice given, never came. Hereupon the Pope was easily reconciled to the Scots, and the French as easily induced to renew the ancient league. Only one article was added to the old conditions, that if any controversy did hereafter arise amongst the Scots concerning him who was to succeed in the kingdom, the same should be decided by the Council of the States, and the French, if there were need, were to assist him by his authority and with his arms, who by lawful suffrages was by them declared King.
42. Our writers cast the rise of the Hamiltons, now a powerful family in Scotland, upon these times. There was a certain Nobleman in the Court of England who spake honourably of the fortune and valour of Bruce; whereupon one of the Spencers, Bed-Chamber Man to the King, either thinking that his speech was reproachful to the English, or else to curry favour with the looser sort of the Nobility, drew forth his faucheon [dagger] and, making at him, gave him a slight wound in the body. The man, being of a great spirit, was more concerned at the contumely than at the damage, and, being be hindered by the coming in of many to part the fray from taking present revenge, the day after, finding his enemy in a fit posture in the same place, he run him through. And fearing the punishment of the law and the great power of the Spencers at Court, he fled presently into Scotland to King Robert, by whom he was courteously received, and some lands near the River Clyde were bestowed upon him. His posterity not long after were admitted to the degree of Noblemen, and the opulent family of the Hamilitons was sirnamed from him, and also the name of Hamilton was imposed on the lands which the King gave him. Not long after, Edward had great combustions at home, insomuch that he put many of the Nobles to death and advanced the Spencers, the authors of all evil counsel, higher than his own kindred could bear, so that he was apprehended by his son and by his wife (who had received a small force from beyond the seas) and kept close prisoner. And not long after he was slain by a course sort of death: an hot iron was thrust into his fundament through a pipe of horn, by which his bowels were burnt up and yet no sign of so terrible a fact appeared on the outside of his body. His wife and son were thought privy to the parricide, either because his keepers would never have dared to commit such a deed so openly unless they had had great authors, or else because they were never called in question for so immane [cruel] a butchery.
43. Those disturbances in England, which were followed by the Kings death, Bruce also growing old and weak in body, were the occasions that peace for some years did intercede between the two neighbour nations. For Bruce, being freed from the fear of the English and being also called upon by his age, converted his thoughts to settle his domestick affairs. And first he made hast to confirm the kingdom (which was not yet quite recovered nor fully setled from the commotions of former times) to his only son, yet but a child, by the consent and decree of the Estates. And if he died without issue, then he appointed Robert Stuart, his nephew by his daughter, to be his successor. He caused the Nobles to take an oath for the performance of this decree. But afterwards, fearing that after his death Baliol would begin his old dispute about the kingdom, especially seeing is heirs, because of their minority, might be liable to be injured by others, he sent James Douglas to John Baliol, being in France, with large gifts and promises, that he would cease his claim to the kingdom. This he did not so much to acquire a new right (because, according to the Scottish custom, the King is made by the decree of the Estates, who have the supream power in their hands), but that he might cut off all occasion from wicked men to calumniate his posterity, and also that he might eradicate the very seeds of sedition. Douglas found Baliol far more placable than he or others thought he would be, for he was now surrounded with the miseries of extream old age. He ingenuously confessed that his peccant exorbitance was justly restrained, and that he was deservedly driven out of the kingdom as unworthy to reign. And therefore he was very willing that his kinsman Robert should enjoy the crown, by whose high valour, singular felicity and great pains-taking ’twas vindicated into its ancient splendour. In one thing he rejoiced, that they by whom he was deceived did not enjoy the reward of their perfidiousness. When Robert had setled these matters according to his own desire, the same year (which was 1327, our writers say) that ambassadors were sent into Scotland by Edward the Third for a pacification, in which matter they seemed to act treacherously, and, instead of peace, they carried hsome war, but what the particular fraud was is not expressed, and the English say that this war was openly denounced by Robert, but they describe not the cause of it. Surely it must needs be some great and mighty one, or else a valetudinary old man, when peace was scarce setled and home, and who might have been sated with his former victories rather than with war, would not so soon have been provoked to reassume his arms. This much is certain, that the King by reason of his age could not manage the war himself in person.
44. So that Thomas Randolfe and James Douglas, the valiantest and wisest of all that age, were sent by him into England with twenty thousand brave nimble horse, but no foot at all. The reason was that they might fly up and down swiftly and not abide in one place, nor be forced to fight the English unless they themselves pleased. For they knew that the English would make head against them in their first expedition with a far more numerous army. Neither were they deceived in their opinions, for the King of England, besides his domestick forces, had procured great assistance of horse from Belgium. But in regard as they and the English fell out at York, some English writers say they returned home again, but Frossard, a French writer of the same age, says that they accompanied the English during the whole expedition, and that not only for honours sake but also for fear of sedition they had the next place to the Kings regiment always assigned to them in the camp. The King, having made a conjunction of all his forces (which were clearly above sixty thousand men), marched against the Scots, who had already passed over the Tine. Now there were two fortified towns on the Tine, one nearer Wales, which was Carlisle, and the other about fifty miles lower, called Newcastle. The English had strongly garisoned both of them to hinder the enemies passage over the river, but the Scots, knowing where the river was fordable, passed over without any noise and so deceived both the garisons. When the English were come into the Bishoprick of Durham, from the tops of the hills they might see fires afar off, and then beginning to understand how near their enemy was, they tumultuously cryed arm, arm, as if they were presently to fall to it. They drew forth their army into a threefold order of battel and marched directly to the place where they saw the smoak of the fire, the General denouncing a great penalty on him that without his leave should stir from his colours. Thus they wearied themselves till the evening, and then mark’d out a place for their camp in a wood near a certain river, and there they placed their baggage and carriages, which could not so swiftly follow the flying army. The next day they marched in the same order, and towards evening they were forced to abide in their tents, which they had pitched as conveniently as the place would afford so the draught-horses and the foot might receive a little refreshment. There the Nobles came to the King and deliberated how they should bring the Scots to a battel. The most part were of opinion that the English foot were never able to overtake the flying horse of the Scots, and if they did, yet they could not compel them to fight but in those places where they themselves judged most convenient. But because there was such a general devastation that they could not stay long in an enemies country, they judged it best to pass over the Tine with all their forces and to intercept the enemy in his return home. And besides, the country beyond the Tine was plainer and fitter to draw up an army in, that so the whole body of the army might be put upon service.
45. This opinion was approved and a command given to refresh themselves, and to do it as silently as ever they could, that they might more easily hear the word of command and the sound of the trumpets. That so, leaving the baggage behind, every one should carry a loaf a piece, and, as if the next day they were to fight the enemy, they were to await the event of fortune. So that, their bodies being refreshed from the weariness of the day before, a little after midnight they took up their arms and in good order begun their march. But the marishes and hills by which they were to pass quickly made them to break their ranks, and he that could led the van. The rest followed their steps, and their march was in such disorder that many horse and carriage-beasts did either stick in the mud or else did tumble down from steep places, and oft times they cryed to your arms, and then all of them, in trepidation, ran to a place from whence the noise and cry came, without any order at all. But when they came to those that led the van, they understood that the tumult was occasioned by a multitude of stags who, being rouzed out of the heath by the noise of men and afraid to see them, ran up and down in great confusion amongst the brigades. At last, about evening the horse, but without any foot, came to the fords of Tine over which the Scots had passed, and by which they would return (as they hoped), and at sun-set they forded over, the round and slippery stones which the river roles up and down much incommoding their horse. And besides, they were afflicted with another inconvenience. They had few or none of them any iron tools to cut down wood with, so that after they had marched twenty eight miles they were fain to lie in their arms that night on the bare ground, holding their horses bridles in one of their hands, for they could not cut down wood to make tents (having brought none with them) nor huts, nor so much as stakes to tye their horses to. Early in the morning assoon as it was light there fell such mighty showres of rain that even small brooks were hardly passable by man or horse, and also they were inform’d by some country men which they took that the neighbouring country was so barren and desolate that no provision was to be had nearer than Newcastle and Carlisle, of which one was twenty four, the other thirty miles off. Thither they sent their draught-horses and servants. In the mean time they made use of their swords to cut down stakes to tye their horses to, and some shrubs and small trees to build them huts, with the leaves whereof they fed their horses, and so that night they were fain to fast. Three days after, they that they sent to the towns returned with some small provisions which they brought along with them. Some sutlers came also with them with bread and wine to make a gain of, but it was but little, and also not good; yet, such as it was, the soldiers were ready to fall out who should have it first.
46. Having thus passed seven days in great want, and being also much molested with continual showres, to that their horse-furniture was wet and their horses backs did ulcerate, and they themselves stood (many of them) armed day in night in their wet cloaths, neither could they make any fire by reason that the wood was green, and besides it was wetted by the rain water. The eighth day they resolved to repass the river at a more commodious ford seven miles above the place where they were, but there also the river was swoln by reason of the showres, so that they were much incommoded and some of them were drowned in their passage. As soon as they had landed their army upon the other side, a great reward was proposed to him who could bring the first certain tidings where the Scots were. The two next days, their march lying thro desolate places and ruined by late fires, they had forage enough for their horses but little provision themselves. On the fourth day one of the fifteen young men who scouted out to bring news where the Scots were returned back, and informed them that the Scots army was about three miles distance from theirs, and that for eight days last past they had been as uncertain what became of the English as the English had been what became of them. This he affirmed for truth, as having been taken prisoner by the Scots and freed without ransom on condition he would go tell his King that they would wait for his coming in that place and that they were as willing fight as he. Upon the receipt of this message, the King commanded the army to make an halt, that man and horse might take some refreshment and so be ready for the last encounter, and thus in three brigades he marched slowly towards the enemy. Assoon as they came in sight one of another, the Scots had so divided their men into three batailions upon an hill that the rocks and precipices thereof secured them on the right and left, from whence they might cast down stones on the enemy if they endeavoured to come up to them. At the foot of the hill the English had a rapid torrent to pass, so full of great and round stones that they could not ford over to the enemy, but with great disadvantage pitched their tents and sent an Herald at Arms to the Scots advising them come down into the champion [level] country to fight for glory and empire by true valour in an open plain. The Scots answered that they would fight for no bodies pleasure but their own; that they marched into England to revenge the injuries they had received; if they had done any thing which did offend them, they had free liberty to take their own revenge. As for themselves, they resolved to abide there as long as they pleased, and if their enemy did attaque them, at his peril be it.
47. The next three days, their camps being near and parties placed at the fords, some slight skirmishes passed betwixt them. The fourth day, assoon as it was light, the watch brought word that the Scots had forsaken the hill on which they were, whereupon scouts were sent out to bring certain news and to follow them if they had retreated; who brought word that the Scots had pitched their tents on another hill by the same river, much more convenient for them than the first, where they had a wood which secured their ingress and egress. The English, who hoped that they should famish the Scots (who avoided fighting) in a foreign soil, being frustrated of their expectation, followed them and pitched their tents on an opposite hill. After they had abode there some days, it was observed that they grew more negligent than formerly in their night-watches, either because they undervalued the Scots because of their paucity, or else because they meditated nothing but flight. Douglas took hold of the opportunity to attempt something and, passing over the river with 200 select horse, he entred the enemies camp, where he saw it was but slenderly guarded. He had almost pierced to the King’s own tent where, cutting off the cords, the alarm being taken, he killed near 300 English in his retreat and brought his men safely off. After this, no memorable action happened save that the English, instructed by their own loss, placed more careful watches in convenient places. At last it was told them by a Scot whom they had taken prisoner that there was a proclamation in that camp that at the third watch all should be ready to follow Douglas whither-soever he should lead them. This relation struck such a terror into the English that, dividing their army into three batailions at a moderate distance one from another, they stood all that night in their arms, and their servants held their horses bridled, sadled and ready prepared for whatever should happen in their camp. And moreover they placed strong guards at all the fords of the river. At last, towards day, two Scots trumpeters were brought to the King, who told him that the Scots were commanded to return home, and if the English had a mind to revenge the loss they had sustained they must follow them. Hereupon the English called a council of war, where it was resolved that it was better to march back with the army at present than to follow such flying stragglers to the great vexation both of horse and man, considering they had lost more men in this expedition by famine and sickness than might have fallen in a set-battel. When their retreat was resolved upon, many of the English, either in hopes of prey which might be left behind in their hasty retreat, or else desirous to understand something of their enemies affairs, went into their camp, where they found about five hundred deer, and especially stags, already killed (of which sort the English keep many, not only their Kings but even many private persons also), and also great budgets [containers for cooking] made of raw skins in which they boiled their meat, and about ten thousand snapsacks. Moreover there were two English men whose legs were broken but they were yet alive. All these things, being evidence of great hardiness and poverty, did confirm the goodness of their advice, who were for marching the army back.
48. This year Walter Stuart and Queen Elizabeth died, one the son in law, the other wife to the King. Besides, the Castles of Alnewick and Norham were besieged by the Scots, but without success. Preys were also driven out of Northumberland. In March ambassadors came from England to treat of a perpetual peace and a truce was made for three years. The next year, which as 1328, the English held a Parliament at Northampton the eighth of the Calends of July, wherein all the Orders of Estates agreed to a peace with the Scots upon these terms, that the English should renounce all right which they or their ancestors pretended to have to the crown of Scotland; and that they should leave that kingdom as free as it was at the death of Alexander the Third; and that they should be subject to no external yoke of servitude; and on the other side, the Scots were to surrender up all the lands they sometimes held in England as feudataries; that Cumberland and Northumberland as far as Stanmore should be boundaries to the Scots; that David, the son of Robert, should take to wife Joan, the sister of Henry; that the English should faithfully return all pacts, bonds and writings, or any other monuments of subjection into the hands of the Scots, and should disanul them for the future; that the Scots, for the damage which they had lately done the English King and for the lands which his father and grandfather had given to his favourites in Scotland, should pay him thirty thousand marks of silver. Both Kings had their proper reasons why they consented so easily to these conditions. The English King, having wasted his treasure and having been put to an ignominious flight, and thereby lessened in the eyes of his own subjects as well as of his enemies, thereupon was afraid that some domestick sedition would arise, and then a warlike enemy, puffd up with his late success, should come on his flank and thereby mightily endamage his kingdom. And Robert, being broken with old age, toil and diseases (for a little before his death he fell into a leprosy), having also been long exercised with the events of both fortunes, good and bad, resolved, if he could, to give upon himself to ease, and not only so, but to provide for the tranquillity of his heirs in regard of their infirm and tender age.
49. And therefore, having settled peace abroad, he turned himself wholly to settle matters at home. When the marriage of his son was magnificently celebrated he, perceiving the end of his life to be near at hand, composed himself almost into the habit of a private man (for some years before all the grand affairs of state had been managed by Thomas Randolph and James Douglas), and lived in a small house at Cardross (a place divided from Dumbritton by the River Levin), and kept himself, but in case of great necessity, from the concourse of people. Thither he called some of his friends a little before his death, and made his will. He confirmed those to be his heirs which were so declared by the Convention of Estates. First, David his son, being eight years old; next Robert Stuart, his nephew by his daughter. He commended them to his Nobles, and especially to Thomas Randolph his sisters son, and James Douglas. Afterward he settled his household affairs and exhorted them all to concord amongst themselves, and to observance of allegiance to their King; if they did so, he would assure them to be unconquerable by a foreign power. Moreover, he is reported to have added three commands or, if you will, counsels: first, that they should never make any one man lord of the Aebudae islands; next, that they should never fight the English with all their force at one time; and thirdly, that they should never make with them a perpetual league. In explicating his first advice he discoursed much concerning the number, bigness and power of the islands, and concerning the multitude, fierceness and hardiness of their inhabitants; they, with ships such as they were, yet not inconvenient for those coasts, coping with men unskill’d in marine affairs, might do a great deal of mischief to others but receive little damage themselves. And therefore Governors were yearly to be sent thither to administer justice amongst them, by officers who should not be continued long in their places neither. His second advice concerning the English stood upon this foot: because the English, as inhabiting a better country, did exceed the Scots in number of men, money and all other warlike preparations, and by reason of these coveniences they were more accustomed to their ease, and not so patient of labour and hardship. On the other side, the Scots were bred in an hardier soil and were, by reason of their parsimony and continual exercise, of a more healthy constitution of body, and by the very manner of their education made more capable to endure all military toil. And therefore that they were fitter for suddain and occasional assaults so to weaken and weary out their enemy by degrees than to venture all at once in a pitch’d battel. His third advice was grounded upon this reason, because if the Scots should have a long peace with the English (having no other enemy besides them to exercise their arms upon), they would grow lazy, luxurious, and so easily become slothful, voluptuous, effeminate and weak. As for the English, though they had peace with the Scots, yet France was near them, which kept their arms in ure [practice]. If, then, those who are skilful in warlike affairs should cope with the Scots, thus grown unskilful and sluggish, they might promise to themselves an assured victory.
50. Moreover he commended to James Douglas the performance of the vow which he had made, which was to go over into Syria and to undertake the cause of Christendom in the Holy War against the common enemy thereof, and because he himself, by reason of his home-bred seditions, or else being broken with age and diseases, could not perform the vow himself, he earnestly desired that Douglas would carry his heart after he was deceased to Jerusalem, that it might be buried there. Douglas looked upon this as an honourable imployment and as an eminent testimony of the Kings favour towards him, and therefore the next year after the Kings death, with a good brigade of noble young men he prepared for his voyage. But, being upon the coasts of Spain, he heard that the King of Arragon managed a fierce war against the same enemy with which he was to fight in Syria, and thinking with himself that it mattered not in what place he assisted in the cause of Christianity, he landed his men and joined himself with the Spaniard. Where, after many prosperous fights, at last despising the enemy as a weak and fugitive one, he thought to attempt something against him with his own men, and so, rushing unadvisedly on the army of the Sarazens, he was by them drawn into an ambush wherein he and the most part of his men were slain. His chief friends that perished with him were William Sinclare and Robert Logan. This happened the next year after the Kings death, which was 1330.
51. To be short, Robert Bruce was certainly a most illustrious person every way, and he can hardly be paralleled for his virtues and valour even in the most heroick times. For as he was very valiant in war, so he was most just and temperate in peace. And though his unhoped-for successes and (after that fortune was once satiated, or rather wearied, with his miseries) a continual course of perpetuated victory did highly ennoble him. Yet to me he seemed to have been more glorious in his adversities. For what a strong hear was that which was not broken, no, nor yet weakened, by so many miseries as brake in upon him all at once? Whose constancy would it not have tried to have his wife a prisoner and to have his four valiant brothers cruelly put to death? And his friends at the same time vexed with all kinds of calamities; and they which escaped with their lives were exiled and lost all their estates? As for himself, he was outed not only of a large patrimony, but of a kingdom too, by the powerfullest King of those times, and one who was most ready both for advice and action. Though he were beset with all these evils at one time, yea, and brought into the extreamest want, yet he never doubted of recovering the kingdom. Neither did he ever do or say any thing which was unbecoming a royal spirit. He did not do as Cato the Younger and Marcus Brutus, who laid violent hands on themselves; neither did he, as Marius, incensed by his sufferings, let loose the reins of hatred and passion against his enemies, but when he had recovered his ancient state and kingdom he so carried it towards them who had put him to so much hardship and trouble that he seemed rather to remember that he was now their King than that he had been sometimes their enemy. And even, a little before his death, though a great disease made an addition to the trouble of his old age, yet he was so much himself as to confirm the present state of the kingdom; yea, and to consult the quiet of his posterity, so that when he died all men bewailed him, as being deprived not only of a just King, but of a loving father too. He departed this live the seventh of the Ides of July in the year of Christ 1329, and of his reign the twenty fourth.
Go to Book IX