WHEN Alexander died, his little grand-daughter
Margaret, who was called the Maid of Norway, was only four years old. She
was living in Norway with her father, but she was proclaimed Queen of
Scotland, and six nobles were appointed to rule the land until she grew up.
Now began a very unhappy time for Scotland, a stormy
time, as Thomas the Rhymer had foretold. The six nobles, and many others
besides, quarrelled among themselves. Instead of trying to keep Scotland
peaceful, they tried to make themselves great. This went on for about four
years. Then Edward, King of England, who was still eager to make Scotland
and England into one country, proposed that the little Queen, who was now
eight years old, should marry his son Edward, Prince of Wales.
The Scottish people agreed to this, but knowing what
was in Edward's mind, they made it plain to him that Scotland should remain
a free country even though the Queen married the English Prince. The rights
and customs of Scotland were to remain unchanged, and Scotland was never to
be made a part of England. To this Edward had to appear to agree, for he saw
that on no other conditions could he have his wish. But secretly he said to
one of his chief advisers, 'Now the time when Scotland and its petty kings
shall be under my rule has at last arrived.'
The little Queen set sail from Norway in a beautiful ship filled with
splendid jewels, and clothes, and other rich presents from her father. But
she never reached her kingdom. On the voyage she became very ill and died in
Orkney. how she died, or where she was buried, we do not know. In those days
news travelled very slowly. There were no trains, or posts, or telegrams,
and it was not for some time after her death that the people, who were
waiting anxiously for their Queen, learned that she would never come to them
The death of the little Queen was a
great sorrow to the people of Scotland, and it also put them into a great
difficulty. The Maid of Norway had been the only direct heir to the throne,
for King Alexander's children had all died before he did, and he had no
other near relatives.
But he had a great many
cousins and distant relatives, and now no fewer than twelve men claimed the
throne. The chief of the twelve were .John Baliol and Robert de Bruce, the
father of that Robert who married the pretty Lady Marjorie. Each of the
twelve thought that he had the best right to the throne. None would give
way, so the quarrelling became very fierce.
As the twelve could not agree among themselves as to who should be King,
they at last resolved to ask some one else to decide for them. So Edward,
King of England, was asked to come to settle the question.
This seemed to many of the nobles the best and wisest
thing to do. King Edward was king of a neighbouring country; he was King
Alexander's brother-in-law, and great-uncle of the Maid of Norway, and he
was known to be a wise and just man. But King Edward pretended that he was
asked for none of these reasons, but because he was over-lord of Scotland.
Edward chose John Baliol as King. Both John Baliol and
Robert Bruce were descended from David of Huntingdon, who was William the
Lion's brother, but .John Baliol was the grandson of his eldest daughter,
Robert Bruce was the son of his second daughter. So Edward decided that the
grandson of William the Lion's eldest, had a better right to the throne than
the son of his second, daughter. We must own that King Edward's choice seems
the just and right one.
Baliol was a weak man and no fit King for Scotland at this time. Before
Edward chose him as King he made him swear to own the King of England as
over-lord. To this John Baliol consented, for Edward was so strong and he so
weak that he did not dare to resist It is said that Edward had sent for
Robert de Bruce and offered him the crown on the same terms, but that Bruce
had indignantly refused, and so John Baliol was chosen instead.
Kneeling before King Edward, John Baliol placed his
hands between his lord's and swore to be his man. The great seal of Scotland
was broken in four and given to the King of England as a sign that Scotland
was his. Then he went home, believing that at last he had made himself
master of Scotland.