Scotland's Story Chapter XVI. Alexander I., The Fierce
EDGAR died in 1107 A.D., and as he had no children,
he was succeeded by his brother Alexander.
Alexander I. was called The Fierce, because he punished the robbers and
other wicked men, of whom there were many in the country.
Edgar had been more loved for his gentleness and
goodness, than feared for his justice and sternness. When Alexander came to
the throne, many of the nobles had become little better than robbers. They
rode through all the land, burning and destroying, killing and taking
prisoner men, women, and children. These wild nobles imagined that Alexander
would be gentle, as his brother had been. They thought that he too would be
more interested in building churches and monasteries than in ruling his
kingdom, and that they might still continue in their wicked ways. But they
were mistaken. Alexander was a good man, but he was a stern and just king.
He made up his mind to punish these wild nobles. So he gathered his army and
went against them. And so fiercely did he hunt and pursue these robbers,
that very soon the worst of them were put to death. As Alexander was
returning from warring against these wild nobles, he was met by a poor lady.
She was pale and weary, her dress was torn and dusty, sobbing she threw
herself upon her knees beside the King.
boon, my lord King,' she cried, 'a boon.'
'What troubles you, lady?' said the King, looking down at her kindly. ''tell
me, and if your cause is just, you shall have my aid.'
'Sire,' said the lady, 'the lord of Mearris has
slain my husband and my son. He has robbed me of all that I had. Now I
wander about a homeless beggar with none to help me.'
As the King listened, his face grew dark with anger,
and leaping from his horse he cried, 'By the Holy Rood, I will never more
bestride a horse till I see justice done upon this man.'
Then turning his army, he marched at the head of it,
against the lord of Mearris. Nor did he rest, nor again mount upon a horse,
till he had taken that proud lord, and hanged him for his wickedness and
cruelty to the poor lady.
Thus the wicked
nobles began to be in fear and dread of King Alexander, and they made up
their minds, as they could not kill him in battle, they must do so by
They bribed the keeper of the
King's bedchamber, and promised him a great sum of money if lie would let
some soldiers into the palace. And the keeper of the bedchamber, who ought
to have guarded the King's life as his own, let these wicked men into the
palace, and hid them in a little room near to the King's bedroom.
In the middle of the night, when all was dark, and the
King was peacefully sleeping, these bad men crept softly, softly into his
room. But as they came near the bed the King awoke suddenly. There was a dim
light, and by it he could faintly see the figures crowding round him.
In a moment Alexander sprang up, and seizing his
sword, which hung at the head of his bed, he slew the wicked keeper with one
blow. Then right and left he struck, defending himself manfully. His sword
flashed and fell again and again, till six of the traitors lay dead upon the
Then, seeing how brave and fierce a
king they had to deal with, the others fled. By this time, however, the
noise of the fight had aroused the King's servants and soldiers. Some poured
into his room, others started in pursuit of the traitors. Many of them were
killed and the rest were taken prisoner and brought before the King. But
Alexander knew that these men had been paid to kill him, and not they, but
their masters, were his real enemies. So he questioned them until they told
the names of the nobles who had sent them to do this wicked deed.
Then Alexander gathered his army once more, and
marched against these rebellious nobles. When they heard of the King's
coming, they too gathered their soldiers and made ready to fight.
The two armies came in sight of each other and lay encamped on either side
of a river. The rebels thought that they were safe, for it seemed to them
impossible for all to cross the river, which was both deep and wide.
But King Alexander, calling his standard-bearer, commanded him to cross the
river with a company of the best soldiers.
standard-bearer did, and the rebels were so astonished and afraid at the
hardihood and bravery of the King's men, that they had no heart to fight,
and were utterly defeated.
After this there was peace in
the land, and when Alexander had rest from wars he too built monasteries and
churches, as his father and brother had done. He died in 1125 A.D., having
reigned seventeen years.
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