THE Duke of Rothesay, although he was wild and wicked,
was handsome and had pleasant manners, and the people loved him. He had many
friends and Albany had few, and Parliament decided that as the King was ill,
and could not himself rule, his son, the Duke, should be Governor.
Albany had always hated Rothesay; now that he was
obliged to yield the power to him, he hated him more than ever.
Soon after this the truce with England came to an end,
and the Scottish Borderers, who had been waiting eagerly for that time to
come, once more broke into England and laid the country waste. The English
Borderers too were not slow to fight, and soon the terrible wars were raging
as fiercely as before.
The King of England, who was now called Henry,
remembering the old claim of the English Kings to be over-lords of Scotland,
determined to conquer the country. He sent a letter to King Robert, telling
him that he meant to march to Edinburgh, there to receive his homage.
King Robert took no notice of this letter, but treated
it with silent scorn. Then Henry, gathering a great army, marched into
Scotland. He marched right on to Edinburgh. There Rothesay, who commanded
the castle, sent a fiery letter to King Henry. In it he told Henry that he
had only come into Scotland for love of plunder, and dared him to settle the
quarrel by a tournament between an equal number of knights from either side.
To this Henry would not listen, and he began to besiege Edinburgh.
Albany had meanwhile gathered an army, and he now came
marching toward Edinburgh. But instead of helping his nephew, he encamped a
little way off and did nothing. This made the people very angry, for they
believed that Albany wanted King Henry to defeat the Duke of Rothesay, and
either to kill or take him prisoner.
Winter was coming on. The English had eaten up all the
food they had, and they began to starve. Many of them, too, had died of
sickness and cold. And last of all Henry heard that the Welsh were
rebelling, so he gave up the siege, and marched back again to England.
This is time last time that an English King ever
brought an army into Scotland. When armies came again, they were not led by
the King, but by one of his generals. Unlike all the other armies which had
come before, this one did little damage. For Henry did not allow his troops
to burn and ravage as they went, but made them march peacefully and quietly
through the land.
While his country was in danger, the Duke of Rothesay
had fought well, and kept the castle of Edinburgh from falling into the
hands of the King of England, but now that the danger was over, he again
took to his former wild ways. Albany, who hated his nephew, was not slow to
tell time King all the evil things which he heard about him. At last, the
poor old King, hurt to the heart that his son should do such things, ordered
Albany to imprison him until he should promise to behave better.
Then Albany was very glad. For many years he had
longed for the death of Rothesay. Now be felt that he could safely kill him.
In those days, it was easy for prisoners to be killed, for the dungeons were
dark and hideous, and it was not wonderful that few should come out alive.
And Albany had the King's orders, signed and sealed by the King's ring,
telling him to put the Prince in prison.
So one day as the Duke rode towards St. Andrews,
attended only by a few followers, he was suddenly seized by Albany and his
friends. Rothesay was first taken to the castle of St. Andrews, but that was
not secret or safe enough to please his wicked uncle. So in a storm of wind
and rain, mounted upon a cart horse, and with only a rough peasant's cloak
thrown over his beautiful clothes, he was rudely hurried away to the castle
of Falkland, which belonged to Albany. There he was thrown into a dark and
gloomy dungeon under the castle walls.
He had no light except what came through the tiny
barred window, just above the ground. He was given no food, no drink. His
cruel uncle meant him to die by one of the most terrible of deaths. He meant
him to starve.
In this dungeon he remained day and night without
food, or drink, or light, until he cried aloud in pain. The daughter of the
Governor of the castle heard his cries, and she came to the window. She knew
that dreadful things often happened in these dark dungeons, and when the
poor Prince, dragging himself to the window, told her that he was being
starved to death, she was full of pity. She hurried away, and returned as
quickly as she could, with some thin oat-cakes hidden in the white muslin
veil which it was then the fashion for ladies to wear on their heads. It was
all that she dared to bring, for fear of the soldiers who watched. Day after
day she went, pretending to walk in the garden, and always she stopped at
the little window, and let the oatcakes drop through the bars. Another woman
gave the Duke milk, but all that those two kind women could bring him was
not enough to satisfy his terrible hunger, and soon even that was stopped,
for the cruel jailors began to wonder why the Duke did not die. They watched
more carefully than before, and when they found out what the Governor's
daughter and her servant were doing, they put them to death. The poor Duke
was now left without a single friend, and one morning his groans ceased and
there was silence in the little cell. He was dead.
Then the Duke of Albany caused it to be made known
that the Prince had become ill, and had died in prison.. Every one believed
that he had been murdered by his uncle, but no one dared to tell this to the
poor old King, who wept and mourned greatly for the loss of his son, whom he
had loved very dearly, in spite of his wildness and wickedness.
Albany now once more became Regent, for although King
Robert had another son called James, lie was only a little boy, too young to
rule. But King Robert began to be afraid of his brother, lie began to feel
sure that he had murdered Rothesay. So to keep his son James safe, he made
up his mind to send him to France, pretending that he thought he would
receive a better education there than in Scotland.
A ship was fitted out, and, accompanied by several
nobles, the young Prince James, who was about nine years old, set out for
The weather was fine, and they sailed along without
fear, for there was a truce between England and Scotland at that time. But
in spite of the truce, they had not gone far when an armed English ship came
sailing towards them and attacked them. The Prince was taken prisoner and
carried away to the King of England.
When they were led before him, the nobles fell upon
their knees, and begged him to set the Prince free, reminding him that the
two kingdoms were at peace, and that to take the Prince prisoner was an act
of war. But King Henry only laughed at all they said. ' If King Robert had
been truly friendly,' he said, 'he would have sent his son to England to be
taught. For I know French indifferently well, and nowhere could he find a
So instead of going to France, the poor little Prince
was put into an English prison.
When this news was brought to King Robert he was
sitting at supper. As he listened to the messenger, his face grew pale and
he fell forward senseless. His servants thought that he had died. They
carried him to his room and laid him upon his bed. There he lay like one
dead, and indeed he was so full of grief that he did not care to live, and
soon after, on the 1st of April 1406 A.D., he died. He had reigned for
sixteen years. He was a good and gentle man, but no fit King for those