Scotland's Story Chapter LI. Regent Albany - The Story of the Battle of Harlaw
THE old King was dead, and his young son was a
prisoner in England, so the Duke of Albany had his wish. If he was not King
he was at least Regent. lie did not try to make the English King release his
nephew the Prince. He was glad that he should be prisoner, for now there was
no one to interfere with him or to question his power. So be made and kept
peace with England. This was a good thing for Scotland, although Albany did
it for his own selfish ends. But he also wanted to make friends with the
barons so that they might continue to let him rule. lie allowed them
therefore to oppress the people and to fight with each other, and he also
divided among them many lands which belonged to the King. All this was bad
for Scotland. In order to rule, the Regent dared not enforce the laws, so
the whole land was filled with bloodshed and sorrow.
Among the wild barons, was a fierce chieftain called
Donald, Lord of the Isles. He was ruler over the Islands of the west and had
much land on the mainland itself, and he thought himself as great as any
King. But not content with his many possessions, he claimed, as a right, the
earldom of Ross. This earldom Albany gave to his son Murdoch.
Full of dreadful wrath, the island Prince gathered an
army, and swearing that he would burn the city of Aberdeen and make all
Scotland a desert to the shores of 'Fay, he marched with his wild soldiers
through the land. Where they found quiet farms and peaceful homes they left
only blackened ruins. Making themselves rich with plunder, they swept on, a
trail of fire and smoke telling the story of their passage.
But the men of Aberdeen rose, and headed by their
brave provost, they marched to meet the Highland host. They joined the Earl
of Mar, who with an army of knights and gentlemen, was coming to fight
Donald. At Harlaw, about five miles from Aberdeen, a great battle took
The Highlanders wore little armour and were wild and
undisciplined, but they far outnumbered the Lowlanders, and they fought with
a fierce and savage courage. Round the steel-clad knights of the south they
swarmed, yelling madly, fighting with long, two-handed swords, short, sharp
dirks, and mighty battle-axes. They sprang upon the horses behind their
riders, and clung there like wild cats, driving their dirks again and again
into the backs of the knights, through the joints of their armour. Or with
the hooks upon their battle-axes they pulled the knights out of their
saddles, dealing them deadly blows as they lay upon the ground.
They fell fu' close on ilka side, Sic straiks ye
never saw; For ilka sword gaed clash for clash, At the battle of
The Hielandmen wi' their tang swords, They laid on us fu' sair; And
they drave back our merry men, Three acres breadth and mair.'
But the Lowland men fought calmly through the yelling
horror that surrounded them, and although many were slain, the Highlanders
were at last driven back.
On the red field of Harlaw hundreds of the noblest men
of Lowland Scotland lay dead, along with hundreds of Highlanders and
Of fifty thousand Hielandnien Scarce fifty there
went hame, And out of a' the L.owlandrnen, But fift' marched wi'
'Gin ony body spier at ye For them we took awa', Ye may tell them
plain, and very plain, They re sleeping at Harlaw.'
The Highlanders had the worst of the battle. They did
not take Aberdeen, as they had threatened, but went back to their islands
subdued if not conquered.
For thirteen years Albany continued to rule. He was a
very old man, over eighty, when he died. Including the time he had ruled
during his brother's life, he had governed Scotland for thirty-four years.
Little good can be said of him, be was not even brave, as nearly all the
Stewarts have been.
It was during the years in which Albany ruled, that
the first Protestant martyr was killed in Scotland. A martyr is a person who
dies for his religion. Up to this time all the world had belonged to the
Roman Catholic Church, of which the Pope, as we call the Bishop of Rome, was
the head. hut now a few men began to doubt if all that the Pope commanded
them to believe was right These men came to be called Protestants, because
they openly protested or bore witness to what they believed. But the Pope,
and all those who thought as he did, were very angry with the Protestants.
They ill-treated them, and often put them to death.
The first martyr was called John Resby. He suffered a
very cruel death, being burned alive at Perth in 1407 A.D. His books and all
that he had written were burned with him, so that people might forget what
he had taught. But this was not a good way to make people forget, and in
after years many died as he did, rather than pretend to believe what they
did not believe.
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