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Sir William Wallace
Chapter I The English Aggression

'Quhen Alysandyr oure Kyng wes dede,
That Scotland led in lu'e and lé,
Away wes sons of ale and brede,
Off wyne and wax, off gamyn and glé:

Oure gold wes changyd in to lede.
Cryst, borne in to Vyrgynyté,
Succoure Scotland and remede,
That stad [is in] perplexyté.'
WYNTOUN, viI.fin.

A MOST fateful date in the history of Scotland was the 19th of March 1285-86. In the dusk of that memorable day, King Alexander III., riding along the coast of Fife, near Kinghorn, was thrown over a precipice and killed. He was only in the forty-fifth year of his age, though in the thirty-seventh year of his reign. If we take our stand at Kinghorn on the next melancholy morning, and gaze backwards and forwards on the history of the country, we shall witness the most impressive contrast of peace and war that is presented in the annals of Scotland, or perhaps of any civilised nation in the world. This awful contrast forms a most essential element in determining the judgment of history on the policy of the Scots and of the English kings. At the death of Alexander, Scotland was a most prosperous country, steadily advancing in the arts of peaceful life— 'more civilised and more prosperous,' says Innes, with the common assent of historians, 'than at any period of her existence, down to the time when she ceased to be a separate kingdom in 1707.' The policy of Edward I., however motived, was the prime cause of this lamentable subversion of the tranquillity of a hundred years.


The shadows of coming trouble had fallen upon Scotland before the death of Alexander III. The family of the King had been swept away by death. His first queen, Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry iii. and sister of Edward I. of England, had died in 1275. His younger son, David, had died in 1280. His elder son, Alexander, who married Margaret, daughter of Guy, Count of Flanders, in 1282, had died without issue early in 1283-84. His only daughter, who married Eric II., King of Norway, in 1281, had also died early in 1283-84, leaving a daughter. Alexander was little over forty. Still there is no assurance of length of days; and if he should die there would be a minority, probably a disputed succession, possibly an active revival of the English claim to over-lordship. In these circumstances, Alexander at once proceeded to take such precautions as he could. He summoned a Parliament at Scone on February 5, 1283-84, and obtained from his nobles their solemn acknowledgment of Margaret, Princess of Norway, as heiress of Scotland, failing issue of himself and of his late son. Towards the end of next year, he also married a second wife, Joleta (or lolande), daughter of the Count de Dreux; but she bore him no child. Alexander must have often and anxiously reflected upon the likelihood of a recurrence of such baronial rivalries as had proved a grave danger to the country during his own minority. On his tragic death on March 1, 1285-86, the hopes of the nation were left to rest upon the fragile Maid of Norway.

For a short period the affairs of the kingdom maintained a placid course. On April 11, 1286, the magnates assembled at Scone, and selected six of their number to act as a Council of Regency, with the official designation of 'the Guardians of the Kingdom of Scotland appointed by the common advice.' The Bishop of St. Andrews and the Earls of Fife and Buchan were to administer the districts north of the Forth; the Bishop of Glasgow, Comyn of Badenoch, and James the Steward of Scotland, were to rule the lands south of the Forth. No question was raised as to the succession of the little princess, and ostensibly there was every disposition on the part of the barons to fulfil the solemn pledges they had made to her grandfather two years before. It may, however, be open to doubt whether intrigue had not commenced to operate by the time that Alexander in. was laid to rest at Dunfermline.

For one thing, there is extant a letter of credence, dated l)unferrnline, March 29, 1286, addressed to King Edward by the Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, 'in their own name, and in the name of the clergy, earls, barons, and all others of the realm of Scotland, who had been present at the burial of the lord Alexander of good memory, the late illustrious King of Scotland,' and commending to Edward's confidence the two bearers, the Prior of the Dominicans of Perth and brother Arnold. The two friars were to deliver an oral communication, and bring back the King's answer. There remains no record of the matter of either message or reply. It is not easy to suppose that the business was of no deeper import than formal and complimentary intercourse. In view of the circumstances, it all but certainly must have borne reference, in part at least, to the settlement of the succession. The political record of the Bishop of St. Andrews is not calculated to disarm suspicion. Edward, at any rate, appears to have been satisfied, for he presently embarked for France, and remained away for more than three years.

Again, a few months later, Bruce of Annandale—ex Chief-justice of England, smarting under his recent supersession—Bruce and his principal adherents took quiet action in view of contingencies. On September 20, at his son's castle of Turnberry, fourteen Scots nobles— Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, and three sons; Walter, Earl of Menteith, and two sons; Bruce, lord of Annandale, and two Sons; James, Steward (and one of the Guardians) of Scotland, and John his brother; and Angus, son of Donald of the Isles, and his son—entered into a stringent bond, obliging them to give faithful adherence to Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, and Lord Thomas de Clare (brother of Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, Edward's son-in- law and Bruce's brother-in-law), 'in their affairs.' The nature of these affairs is not indicated, neither is there any other record of them. There is a suggestive clause saving their fealty to the King of England, and to 'him that shall obtain the kingdom of Scotland through blood relationship with King Alexander of blessed memory, according to the ancient customs in the Kingdom of Scotland approved and observed.' There is no direct reference to the child queen. It is useless to inquire what was the business that Richard de Burgh and Thomas de Clare had on hand or in contemplation. Plainly the instrument was simply a diplomatic process of binding all the parties together in support of such action as Bruce might take on the advice of a majority of their number, for advancing his pretensions to the throne of Scotland, when opportunity should serve. There is nothing to show that Edward ever had knowledge of this bond.

Somewhere about this time, moreover, Bruce passed from speculation to action. Balliol, in his pleadings before Edward in 1291, averred that, in violation of their oath of fealty to Queen Margaret, 'Sir Robert Bruce and the Earl of Carrick, his son, attacked the castle of Dumfries with fire and arms, and banners displayed, and against the peace expelled the forces of the Queen, who held the same. Hence Sir Robert advanced to the castle of Buittle. He then caused a proclamation to be made by one Patrick M'Guffock, within the bailiary of the said castle,' with the result that good subjects were driven from the land. 'Furthermore,' the allegation ran, 'the Earl of Carrick, by the assent and power of his father, took the Lady of Scotland's castle of Wigton, and killed several of her people there.' A number of entries in the Exchequer Rolls combine to support Balliol's charge, and even to show that the wave of disturbance was felt on the eastern seaboard. How Bruce was brought back to peaceable ways does not appear.

The temporary stir occasioned by Bruce's eagerness was the only ripple on the face of affairs for some three years. Early in 1289, however, Edward seems to have made up his mind to strengthen his hold on Scotland by a marriage between the young Queen and Prince Edward of Wales. The proposed parties, being cousins-german, were within the degrees prohibited by the canon law; and on May 8, Edward despatched Sir Otho de Grandison to Rome, with letters from himself and a petition from the Prince, soliciting from Pope Nicholas IV. the necessary dispensation. The idea may have presented itself to Edward's mind two years earlier; for on May 27, 1287, he had obtained a Bull from Pope Honorius IV. permitting him to marry his children to relatives in the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity. However this may be, in April and May 1289, envoys passed to and fro between Edward and Eric on 'certain affairs,' which were no doubt affairs tending in the direction of the marriage. On November 6, commissioners representing the three countries concerned met at Salisbury, and concluded a treaty. Eric was to send the Queen to England or to Scotland by November i next year, free from matrimonial engagement. If she came to England, Edward would, on the establishment of security and peace in Scotland, and on the demand of the Scots nation, send her to Scotland, in like manner free from matrimonial engagement, provided 'the good nation of Scotland' gave 'sufficient and good security' to Edward not to marry her without the appointment and advice of himself and the assent of the King of Norway. The Scots envoys engaged to establish such order as to secure the Queen in the quiet enjoyment of her realm. The preamble of the treaty is framed so as to convey that Eric was the prime mover in the business. He is represented as having applied to Edward for aid and advice, the object being to secure for Edward's niece the obedience of her subjects and the free exercise and enjoyment of her royal powers, after the manner of other kings in their own kingdoms. On receiving this appeal, Edward, in his zeal for the peace of Scotland, and for the establishment of his niece in her rightful position, invited the Guardians to send commissioners to the Salisbury convention. But there can be no doubt that Edward himself was the prime mover. Eric certainly was loth to part with his child; he had made no representation on her behalf to the Scots Guardians, nor had they indicated any wish to have her in Scotland. On the other hand, Edward's project of marriage would naturally require her presence on this side of the North Sea; and his influence with Eric was backed by a recent loan of 2000 marks with easy arrangements for repayment, which seems not to have been yet discharged. It may be greatly doubted whether Edward was taking all this trouble out of disinterested anxiety for the welfare and royal status of his niece, or for the security of peace on the English border. The treaty gives no hint that the Salisbury commissioners had before them the marriage contemplated by Edward; the terms of the engagement of the Scots, as well as the absence of an express statement, would seem to negative the idea. Sufficient reason may be found in the fact that the dispensation had not then been granted, as well as in Edward's desire to proceed with most cautious steps. It is to be remarked that not only in the treaty, but also in the Prince's petition to the Pope, and in a communication of Edward's addressed to the Scottish people on the same day as the treaty was made, and counselling the obedience of all to the Guardians, the great object of the peace and reformation of Scotland is dwelt on with suspicious emphasis. Sir Otho de Grandison returned to London on December 31. With the irony of fate, the dispensation, which had been granted (and acknowledged handsomely in gold forms) on November 16, did not arrive in the form of a Bull till October 9, 1290, almost simultaneously with the arrival of the rumour of the Queen's death.

At a conference held at Brigham on March 14, 1290, the treaty of Salisbury was confirmed. Three days later, the Guardians, who had now at least been informed of Edward's intention and of the dispensation, addressed a letter to Edward assenting to the proposed marriage, and another letter to Eric urging him to send Margaret at once to England. It may seem strange that they should not have asked him to send her to Scotland; but Edward obviously had laid great stress on the alleged risks of the unsettled condition of the country; his solicitude, from a family point of view, was not at all unreasonable; probably enough he had impressed Eric with anxiety on the same ground; and the Guardians seem to have had no serious anticipation that their Queen's grand-uncle would infringe the international friendship of a century. The Guardians' letter to Eric was followed by one from Edward in the same sense, on April 17. Already the King's butler was down at Yarmouth, preparing and victualling 'a great ship' to carry Edward's plenipotentiary, Antony Bek, the astute and magnificent Bishop of Durham, with an imposing retinue, to Norway. The preparations took forty days; and at length Bek sailed from Hartlepool on the 9th of May. Bek was an adept in smoothing the diplomatic path; he distributed judicious annuities to Norwegian friends to the extent of £400 a year till the Queen should attain the age of fifteen. Presumably the grand outfitting of the ship implies that the Queen was expected to come over in it; but it returned without her in June. It was not till September that Eric set out with his daughter. In the beginning of September, accordingly, Edward again despatched Bek, this time to Orkney, to meet the Maid. He was also attentive enough to send an ample variety of jewels for the Queen's use. At almost every step in the proceedings, the records betray his eager haste. The Guardians exhibited no such fervour; it was not till October 3 that they accredited their envoys, and already they had been urged to action by Edward.

Meantime the Guardians had been taking thought for the security of the kingdom. The negotiations with Edward issued in the treaty of Brigham on July 18, 1290. By this treaty it was provided that the laws, liberties, and customs of Scotland should remain inviolate for ever, and that the realm should remain separate from, and entirely independent of, England. No parchment terms could have done more to secure independence. There was, indeed, an insidious saving clause, steadily recurrent, which reserved such rights as Edward or others might have; but whether intended to neutralise the specific provisions or not, it must be regarded as purely formal.

The ardent development of Edward's care for his grand-niece and his son ought to have been at least suggestive. There remain two striking documents, dated August 28. In one of them, the Guardians agree to deliver the castles of Scotland under certain conditions to their Queen and Prince Edward; and in the other, Edward notifies the Guardians of his appointment of Bishop Bek to act in concert with them as lieutenant of the royal couple. For it was incumbent upon him to respect his oath to maintain the laws of Scotland. He even appears to have gone so far as to demand the surrender of the castles to himself, but this demand the Guardians refused.

The whole of the laborious structure was levelled to the ground on October 7, when the Bishop of St. Andrews reported to Edward the rumour of the Queen's death at Orkney. The Queen had died on the passage from 'Norrowa' o'er the faem.' The details are unknown. The very fact, indeed, has been questioned; for a young woman claiming to be Margaret, and telling a circumstantial story of her being kidnapped at Orkney on the voyage to Scotland, was burnt at the stake at Bergen in 1301 as an impostor. Be this as it may, the luckless Margaret now passes out of the history of Scotland, leaving a divided kingdom face to face with the aroused cupidity of a determined, astute, and unscrupulous neighbour.


Who should now succeed Margaret on the Scottish throne? Fordun relates that Malcolm, the first 'rex Scotiae,' decreed a change in the principle of succession. This enactment is said to have provided that thenceforth each king should be succeeded by whoever was, at the time being, the next descendant; that is, a son or a daughter, a nephew or a niece, the nearest then living. It is not at all unlikely that the disturbance of the balance of the kingdom by the acquisition of Lothian may have rendered the substitution of the Teutonic for the Keltic law of succession expedient, or even necessary The claims of Balliol and Bruce alone need to be considered; and if this law was formally established, the letter of it would be a strong support to Bruce's candidature, whatever the spirit of its intention. For the present purpose, however, we are not concerned with the validity of the claims of either competitor, but mainly with the process whereby the final decision was reached. The essential point is to discern the real spirit governing the evolution of events.

The death of Margaret at once urged the competitors to fresh activity. The Guardians were divided in their sympathies, and the division no doubt ran deep into the community. The first overt movement, so far as existing documents indicate, was made by Bruce. It was an indirect, tentative operation. Towards the end of the year (1290), an appeal was preferred to Edward by 'the seven earls' and the community of the realm of Scotland against the Bishop of St. Andrews and Sir John Comyn in respect of their action as Guardians. The appellants asserted their privilege of placing the King of Scotland on the throne, complained of acts of oppression exercised by the Guardians on Donald Earl of Mar and the freemen of Moray, narrated the recognition of Robert Bruce of Annandale as next heir to the throne by Alexander ii., and alleged some minor grievances. At this time there were only four Guardians, the Earl of Fife having been murdered and the Earl of Buchan having died; and the two not inculpated, the Steward of Scotland and the Bishop of Glasgow, were fast friends of Bruce. Mar and Moray also leant to Bruce's faction. Evidently the appeal was promoted in the interests of Bruce, and with his knowledge, if not positively at his instigation. There is no record of any answer.

There is a glimpse of still earlier action by Bruce in the letter of the Bishop of St. Andrews to Edward, reporting the rumour of the Queen's death. The rumour arrived when the Estates were sitting to receive Edward's answer to the refusal to surrender the castles to him. Bruce, the Bishop says, had not intended to be present, but, on hearing the rumour, had appeared with a strong following. His ultimate intentions the Bishop could not tell. Then follows a significant point. Should it unhappily prove true that the Queen is dead, the Bishop urges Edward to come to the marches without delay, with the view of preventing bloodshed, and of aiding the faithful of the land to place on the throne the man that possesses the proper title—meaning, of course, Balliol. To interpret the Bishop as merely currying favour with the King is probably a large stretch of charity. He certainly stood in a small minority in desiring Edward's intervention. The chroniclers, indeed, relate how the community of the realm, impressed by the ancient friendship between the two kingdoms and the particular cordiality of Alexander III. and Edward, invited the English King to arbitrate on the claims of the competitors. But no such invitation is traceable in the records, and, on that ground alone, apart from the strong probabilities, it may safely be believed that such an invitation was never sent. There was not the least occasion for it, on either side. It certainly would not have represented the true feeling of the community of Scotland; and no doubt Edward was fully aware of the fact, for, in the whole transaction, he studiously treated that body with very scant regard.

The Waverley Annalist states that in March 1291, on the day after Ascension, Edward declared to his nobles, in the presence of nine of the competitors, who at the same time submitted their claims to him, that he was resolved to subdue Scotland as he had recently subdued Wales. But Edward was now on the peaceful tack of legal process. The competitors, though mostly great Scots nobles, were also mostly the liegemen of Edward for large possessions in England; and not one of them could dare to claim the throne of Scotland without regard to Edward's opinion. It was quite inevitable that every one of them should submit to his judgment. Besides their material interests in England, they were of Norman descent and of Norman upbringing and Norman sympathies, and thus they were largely alien to the mass of the Scottish population. Their interest in Scotland was little, if anything, more than a matter of land and lordship. They were quite content to take the kingdom of Scotland as a bigger fief. It was therefore the most natural thing in the world for them to leave the decision of the case in the hands of their liege lord, the King of England. For the community of Scotland the question wore a wholly different aspect.

Edward had taken good care not to allow the matter to slumber through the winter. He had sent forth his commands to all the religious houses of the land, requiring them to search diligently in their chronicles, and to transmit to him speedily extracts of all such passages as might bear on the relations of England and Scotland. Such of these extracts as had come to hand, he caused to be recited before his Parliament assembled at Norham on May io. By the mouth of his Justiciary, Sir Roger le Brabazon, he set forth his solicitude for the peace of Scotland and his anxiety to do justice to all, and required the Scots prelates and nobles to recognise his superiority and direct lordship—a claim affirmed to be clear, from chronicles found in different monasteries and other places in England and Scotland, from other sources of information, from certain documents, and on most evident reasons.' The Scots nobles present, although previously informed of Edward's intentions, represented their inability to reply without further consultation with nobles and others not then present. The meeting was adjourned till next day, when Bishop Bek, not Edward personally, announced that they might take three weeks, at the end of which time they would be expected to produce any evidence they might be able to find against the King's claim of superiority.

Meantime the returns from the religious houses continued to pour in. The Scots nobles also must have exhibited anxiety for the independence of Scotland; for on May 31 Edward made them a declaration that the coming of the magnates and the Community of Scotland to Norham should not be drawn into a precedent in prejudice of the liberties of the realm. Then, on June 2, the Scots nobles assembled on Upsetlington Green - Holywell Haugh-on the north side of the Tweed, opposite to Norham Castle. The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Chancellor of England, with the usual preliminary flourish about the gracious feelings and intentions of Edward, informed them that the Kings of England from the remotest times had held the over- lordship of Scotland. They themselves, he pointed out, had not even now brought forward any evidence in disproof of Edward's claim. Edward, therefore, in the exercise of his right, would proceed to investigate and decide the rights of the claimants. Eight of these, who were present, formally acknowledged Edward's supremacy.

Next day the proceedings were resumed on the English side of the Tweed, in the parish church of Norham. Balliol, who had been absent on the previous day, now made his acknowledgment. The Bishop of Bath and Wells advanced Edward's pretensions another step; he explained that Edward did not construe the possession and exercise of his right of over-lordship as excluding his hereditary right of lordship. Then, as to the mode of proceeding towards the determination of the claims of the competitors, Edward suggested that the chief claimants, Balliol and Bruce, should each, on behalf of themselves and such other competitors as should agree, nominate forty arbiters or auditors, the King himself being content to nominate twenty-four, more or less, to hear the evidence and to report to him, whereupon he would give his decision. The one hundred and four arbiters were appointed accordingly on July 5; and next day they fixed the hearing to take place at Berwick, the King himself appointing August 2 as the date.

The 11th of June had been a memorable day. The Guardians formally resigned the kingdom and its castles to Edward as over-lord. The Bishop of Caithness, on the nomination of the Scots nobles, was appointed by Edward Chancellor of Scotland; and with him was associated the King's own clerk, Sir Walter de Amundesham (Amersham), who was presently (August 18) succeeded by Adam de Botingdon. Two days later, Sir Brian Fitz Alan was associated with the Guardians in Edward's interest; the first batch of Scots prelates and barons swore fealty on the Holy Evangels; and Edward, 'as over-lord of Scotland,' ordered the governors of castles in Scotland to deliver them over to governors of his own appointment, the common consent of the Scots Guardians and of the competitors being recorded; and Edward, as over-lord, proclaimed his peace. On June 17 a general order was issued that all freeholders should swear fealty to Edward. The terms of the ordinance as to homage and fealty, which had been settled on June 12 at Norham by Edward 'with the advice of the prelates and magnates of Scotland there present,' were comprehensive and precise. They applied to 'all, both clerical and lay, who would have been bound to make homage and fealty to a living king of Scotland.' All that came were to be admitted; those that came and refused were to be arrested till performance; those that did not come, but excused themselves for good reason, were to be allowed till next Parliament; those that neither came nor excused themselves were to be 'more straitly distrained' till they conformed. Thus, to all appearance, Edward held Scotland in the grip of his iron hand—the reward of a patient diplomacy.

The great process was resumed on August 3 at Berwick. The competitors, now increased to twelve, presented their claims in technical form before the hundred and four auditors. The first object was to decide the point of law at issue between Balliol and Bruce, namely, whether the nearer descendant by the younger child or the more remote descendant by the elder child had the preferable title. 'Perhaps,' as Burton says, 'the policy of the arrangement lay in this, that in Bruce and Balliol, and those they might bring with them, the Lord Superior knew whom he had to deal with personally; among a set of miscellaneous strangers, bringing their friends and supporters into the controversy, he might find troublesome people.' The question, if in some sense 'a by-question between two claimants,' nevertheless went to the root of the claims of the two competitors that were obviously first in the running. The proceedings went on, without getting much farther forward, till August 12, when Edward adjourned the sittings to June 2, 1292.

It had been alleged that some document founded upon by the Count of Holland was missing, and this gave the King a welcome opportunity of further demonstrating his resolution to do justice to the last iota. On this 12th of August he appointed certain commissioners to examine all documents presented by suitors or 'in any way touching us and our kingdom,' whether in Edinburgh Castle or elsewhere in Scotland. Under the order many papers were carried away and deposited in Berwick Castle. It does not appear that anything of importance or of immediate relevance was discovered. Certainly Edward found nothing to support his claim of over-lordship, otherwise he would have utilised it, and had it carefully recorded. Whatever his real intention in directing the search, his subsequent dealings with Scotland gave colour—and probably quite false colour—to later allegations charging him with the express purpose of wantonly destroying the national records. During the next five or six days (August 13-18), Edward manifested his satisfaction with events in a manner peculiarly pleasing to some half-dozen Scots magnates. There remains a record of certain grants he made to the Bishop of Glasgow, James Steward of Scotland, Earl Patrick of Dunbar, Sir John de Soulis, Sir William de St. Clair, Sir Patrick de Graham, and Sir William de Soulis. These grants are expressed to be made for various expenditure, and 'also for the zeal' the grantee 'had and has to promote peace and tranquillity among the people' of Scotland. The record, however, is cancelled in the Rolls, for the very sufficient reason that the particular grants were not made after all, equivalents being given instead. Every reader may make his own comment.

While English counsels ruled the policy of the Guardians, and English castellans stretched their mailed hands over Scotland from the strongholds, the great cause dragged on. At length, June 2, 1292, came round, and Edward resumed the process at Berwick. A thirteenth competitor now presented himself—Eric, King of Norway. Edward professed anxiety to reach a decision, for was he not moved by the sore desolation of Scotland? Still the contest surged about the claims of Bruce and Balliol. How to arrive at the right decision? The Scots auditors would greatly assist the King to expedite matters if they would inform him on what laws and customs he is to proceed. The Scots auditors are helpless to decide without further consideration and advice; perhaps the English auditors would aid them? The English auditors join in consultation, but they shrink from answering without further and more precise advice, which they might perhaps obtain from the prelates and nobles of England. Apparently, then, there must be a further adjournment. Edward accordingly fixed October 14 for next meeting, and stated that in the meantime he and the rest of the parties interested would take the best advice to be found anywhere in the two kingdoms.

It is not relevant to the present purpose to pursue the arguments of the October meeting. On the ith the case was closed, no doubt after private diplomatic dealing with the competitors. On November 17, Edward announced his decision in great state in the hail of Berwick Castle—in favour of Balliol. Thereupon he issued orders to the Guardians to deliver seisin of the kingdom to the new King, and to the castellans of the twenty-three chief strongholds to deliver them over to Balliol or his representatives. On the 20th, Balliol swore fealty to Edward at Norham; on the 3oth he was enthroned at Scone; then he went back to Newcastle-on-Tyne, and, having eaten his Christmas dinner with his over-lord, did homage to him next morning as an invested King. On January 2, by letters patent, sealed by Balliol, by two great prelates, and by ten of the principal nobles of Scotland, Edward was acquitted of all obligations incurred by him while the country was in his hands; and two days later he acknowledged that his rights in Scotland were limited to homage and its pertinents. Some special favours of a pecuniary nature within the next few months intimate Edward's satisfaction with his royal henchman. But these marks of the over-lord's pleasure were far from counterbalancing the dissatisfaction openly and ominously manifested in his kingdom of Scotland.

Two or three points in this prolonged process invite particular remark. In the first place, as Burton justly points out,

'What confers a strange interest on the selfish squabble and the array of technicalities and pleadings called out by it, is that there is no more allusion to the rights of the Community of Scotland, or the way in which a decision may affect them, than there need be in any private litigation. They have no more place in the question than the tenants on an estate while the settlements are disputed. So far as one can gather from the terms of the documents, it never seems to have occurred to the greedy litigants themselves or their astute technical advisers, that there was a fierce self-willed people, nourished in independence and national pride, who must be bent or broken before the subtleties and pedantries of the Lord Superior's court would be of any avail. Totally unconscious they seem also to have been that the intricate technicalities which dealt with a sovereign independent State as a mere piece of property in search of an owner, formed an insult never to be forgiven, whatever might be the cost of repudiation and vengeance.'

Edward himself, however, was gifted with a deeper insight than all the rest. He at least was thoroughly aware of the deeper elements of the problem, and of their difficult character. At the Upsetlington meeting, while the prelates and nobles had nothing to urge against Edward's claims —for Wyntoun's record of the Bishop of Glasgow's bold denial of the pretended right of superiority must be held in suspense—the 'Community' of Scotland undoubtedly presented a protest. What this body had to say on the point, most unfortunately we do not know. It finds no place in the very full record of proceedings preserved in the Great Roll of Scotland. There is, however, no doubt at all that some answer was made, and that it was set aside as 'nothing to the point' (mihil efficax). But Burton's comment deserves to be carefully borne in mind. 'Transactions,' he shrewdly remarks, 'are profusely recorded, as if for the purpose of courting all inquiry into doubts or difficulties that might affect conclusions, yet one ever feels, throughout all this candour, that the truth is to be found somewhere behind, and that the abundance of punctilious record is devised to conceal it.' The exclusion of all notice of the action of the Community from the official record must be taken to have been deliberate. But it was an act of policy, not of inappreciation, on the part of the King.

There is another element in certain documents of the time that confirms this conclusion in a very striking manner. In the official record of the case, Edward is designated Lord Superior at every turn. There is a marked contrast, however, in the order he directed to each of the Scots castellans to deliver over their strongholds to English successors. 'In the preamble,' Burton points out, 'Edward does not make display of his office of Lord Superior, as in the documents which were not to go to Scotland. He is Edward, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Guienne; and he demands delivery of the fortress by assent of the Guardians and of the several candidates, and only towards the conclusion does he briefly bring in his title of "Soveryn Seygnur."' In this order, as well as in the order as to fealty, he judiciously associates with himself the prelates and magnates of the realm of Scotland. Obviously, he exercised sleepless discretion in the pushing of his claims, with a careful eye on the possible effects in a high-spirited community.

A word may also be said on the functions of the auditors. From the record of their appointment, it would seem to be plain enough that they were intended to sit together as a single board of referees. The magnanimity of Edward and his confidence in the justice of his cause were not ignored by the English chroniclers; eighty to twenty-four manifests a generosity of fairness. But then we have already seen that the auditors did not, at any rate always, act as a single body. At a late stage of the proceedings, two questions arose: By what law should the question be tried—by the Imperial (that is, the Civil or Roman) law, or by the laws and customs of England or Scotland? Is there any specialty in rank or dignity of this kingdom of Scotland that should exempt it from being adjudicated upon like the other tenures of the realm? 'On these two questions,' says Burton, 'King Edward's own council of twenty-four were alone consulted. "Those of Scotland," as the persons selected by Bruce and Balliol were termed, had no opportunity of recording their opinion on these, which, of all the questions put, were the most eminently national in their character.' This is a somewhat startling result, in view of the expectations raised by the terms of appointment. 'Yet,' Burton proceeds, 'it was so managed that they too should appear to have had a voice. It was put to the claimants, Balliol and Bruce, and to the eighty of Scotland selected by them, whether they could show any cause why the kingdom of Scotland— a fief of the King of England—should be treated differently from earldoms, baronies, and other tenures. Under nice distinctions in the ways of putting questions, the broad fact can be distinctly traced, that the twenty-four of England were advisers or referees of the supreme judge, Edward himself, as to the judgment to be given, while the eighty of Scotland were merely the advisers of the two claimants as to the position they should take up as litigants—what they should admit, and what they should dispute. Accordingly, the eighty are not heard in answer to the questions put; the competitors, Balliol and Bruce, give the answers.' Even, however, if the apparent intention to constitute a single board of 104 had been consistently maintained, the result would have been practically the same. The Balliol and the Bruce men would have neutralised each other, and the English twenty-four would have decided every point—and that, too, inevitably in the sense conformable to the mind of the King of England. The whole process was a gigantic palaver, impressing the grandeur, the legality, and the considerateness of Edward, while utilised as a cloak and a means for the remorseless prosecution of his designs upon the independence of Scotland.

It remains to inquire briefly into the substantial validity of the claim of over-lordship. It might augur industrious adventure to penetrate to the misty age of Brute the Trojan and Scota the daughter of the King of Egypt. It would be little less futile to trace the records of the chronicles collected by Edward from the time of Edward the Elder down through four centuries. It is hardly worth while even to deal with the submission of William the Lion when he was accidentally captured in 1174, before Alnwick Castle, on a raid into the north of England. The facts have been obscured by the greater anxiety of historians to fit them in with their preconceptions than to ascertain precisely the meaning of the plain record. If the release of William's obligations by Richard for 10,000 marks, to eke out his preparations for a crusade, has any meaning at all, it means clearly the restoration of the absolute independence of Scotland. The treaty of Falaise 'created the new condition of vassal and superior from that date'; and the Canterbury transactions released William from all the engagements that Henry Ii. thereby 'extorted from him,' as Richard's charter phrases it, 'by new deeds and by consequence of his captivity.' The competitor that submitted to Edward that Richard could not legally release the homage of Scotland, was either praise- worthily exhaustive or hopelessly barren of argument. It seems to demand a facile credulity to believe that William gave 10,000 marks to be released from one ground of an obligation that still remained valid against him on another ground not even specified in express terms, or that Richard placidly went off to the crusade, leaving on the northern marches of England an inviting opportunity to an active and aggrieved neighbour. That William should do homage for his estates in England was a matter of course, but quite a different matter.

Henry iii. appears indeed to have entertained the claim of over-lordship. There is no reference to homage, however, in connection with the treaty of Newcastle. Henry and Alexander ii. simply engaged not to abet each other's enemies, and not to invade each other's territories without just provocation. Nor, when Alexander iii. succeeded to the throne in 1249, at the age of seven, did Henry put forward any claim of wardship—a fact especially significant of the relations between the kingdoms. It is no doubt true that Henry prayed Pope Innocent iv. to prohibit the anointing and crowning of the child King of Scots, on the ground that Alexander was his liege vassal; for so much appears from the Pope's letter of refusal, dated 1251. But Henry does not seem to have proceeded further in the matter. It is stated that, on the occasion of Alexander's marriage with his daughter Margaret in 1252 at York, Henry demanded homage for Scotland as a fief holden of England; and that the reply of the boy King, that he could not take such an important step without the knowledge and assent of his parliament, closed the question. The reply bears evident witness to the vigilance of Alexander's advisers. The like vigilance is to be remarked in the terms of the safe-conduct of Alexander and his queen to England in 1260. Neither the King nor his attendants should be required to treat of State affairs during the visit. In fact, Henry iii., whatever his theoretical claims, never exercised the right of over-lordship. On the contrary, whenever he did interfere in the affairs of Alexander's kingdom, it was in the capacity of a friendly father-in-law, and under the style of 'Principal Councillor to the illustrious King of Scotland.'

The case of 1278 is strikingly illustrative. In that year Alexander did homage to Edward I. at Westminster, and the fact is recorded in a transcript of a Close Roll in absolute terms : 'I, Alexander, King of the Scots, become liege man of the Lord Edward, King of the English, against all nations.' Allen verified the entry, and found that the writing was upon an erasure. The suspicion aroused by the erasure is not lightened by the record of the proceedings preserved in the register of Dunfermline Abbey. There the scribe expressed the homage of Alexander very differently: 'I become your man for the lands which I hold of you in the kingdom of England, for which I owe you homage, saving my kingdom.' Furthermore, it is added: 'Then said the Bishop of Norwich, "And saving to the King of England, if he right have, your homage for your kingdom," to whom the King instantly replied, saying openly, "To homage for my kingdom of Scotland no man has right, except God alone, nor do I hold that kingdom otherwise than of God alone." The vague and insidious use of such expressions as 'if he right have,' or 'whatever right he may have,' or 'whenever he chooses to exercise his right,' fostered the tendency to elevate a claim into a right. It indicates that there actually existed no right capable of definite formulation on firm grounds, or at any rate no right capable of assertion. The gross falsification of such records permits us to hold the Dunfermline scribe as at least an equal authority with the Westminster scribe. This convenient vagueness of suggestion of right reappears with like tameness in the tail of the treaty of Brigham.

Did King Edward honestly believe that he was entitled to the homage of the new King of Scots? The question may be least ungraciously answered by another question: Supposing the sides reversed, would Edward have submitted with intellectual conviction to the same claim advanced against himself on the same grounds? We decline to libel his intelligence. It is impossible to believe that he cared one atom for the chronicles he marshalled so industriously, except for indirect purposes. It is easy enough to understand that his conceptions of policy could readily justify a wrong as ministerial to what he conceived to be a higher right.


Uneasy lay the head that wore the crown of Scotland. The flatteries of King John's friends could not blind him to his isolation. The formal respect rendered to him often betrayed, not merely reluctance, but defiance and contempt. The leading men of the dissident factions soon proceeded to remove his friends from his side and to surround him with strangers, and even to take out of his control the direction of affairs. The St. Albans Annalist records that John dare not open his mouth, lest his people in their rage should starve him or throw him into a dungeon; 'he was like a lamb in the midst of wolves.'

John's uneasiness was not mitigated by the action of his suzerain. Edward mixed his early complaisances with disagreeable reminders. Thus, on December 3!, 1292, he required John to attend at Newcastle on the appeal of Roger Bartholomew, a burgess of Berwick. It was in vain that John pointed Edward to the convention of Brigham, under which no Scotsman was to be required to plead in any legal proceeding out of the realm of Scotland; Edward insisted on the cancelment, not only of the convention, but of every document, known or unknown, calculated to restrict in any way the free exercise of his superiority. Again, on March 8, John was cited to answer in the English court for denial of justice to the indefatigable John Mazun, a merchant of Gascony, who had a big claim against the late Alexander in. In a fortnight's time, March 25, John was again cited to appear before the English parliament to answer an appeal of Macduff of Kilconquhar from a decision of the Scots parliament in February. John did not appear. He was again cited to appear on October 14. He did appear then, but the only answer to be extracted from him was that he dare not act without consultation with the Estates of his realm—an answer probably put in his mouth by his Stirling parliament in August. He was cast in heavy damages; and, on the principle that the wrongdoer should be curtailed in the means of wrongdoing, it was resolved that the three principal castles in Scotland, with their towns, should be delivered over to the Lord Superior till his vassal should have purged his contumacy. John humbled himself, however, before judgment was formally given, and Edward granted a further postponement. Meantime, in June and September, two more summonses had come; and two more followed in November. The English parliament had, indeed, passed certain standing orders, including one that admitted no excuse of absence from either party. John was bound to be constantly trotting up and down, on the most trivial matters. Edward was undoubtedly within his technical rights, and, as Lord Hailes says, he was bent on exercising them 'with the most provoking rigour.' 'It is easy to see,' as Burton remarks, 'that his immediate object was to subject his new vassal to deep humiliation.'

Meantime the King of France was preparing to mete out to Edward the same measure as Edward was meting out to John. He summoned Edward to answer before the Twelve Peers in December for certain acts of aggression of Englishmen upon French subjects in the preceding spring. Regarding the summons as a pretext for the annexation of his French dominions, Edward stayed at home and temporised; but in February Philip declared him contumacious, and in May pronounced forfeiture of his fiefs. Edward kept up negotiations, but prepared for war; and, as over-lord of Scotland, he summoned Balliol and twenty-one Scots magnates to join him with their forces at London on September 1, 12 94. John attended the English parliament, and contributed three years' rental of his large English estates. But his magnates disregarded the summons, and, when pressed, alleged their inability.

Edward's difficulties between France and Wales, as well as at home, furnished both encouragement and opportunity to the discontent seething in Scotland. A parliament was held at Scone. The Estates dismissed all English court officials, and appointed a Council of Twelve, probably after the model of the Twelve Peers of the King of France, to conduct the government. John was formally reduced to a figure-head. Urged by his Council, and stung by the humiliations heaped upon him by Edward, he entered into a secret alliance, offensive and defensive, with Philip of France, under which his son and heir, Edward Balliol, was to marry Philip's niece, the eldest daughter of Charles, Count of Valois and Anjou. John accredited his envoys to Philip in July 1295; the treaty was signed by Philip in October; and John ratified it at Dunfermline on February 23, 1295-96, with the assent, not only of his prelates and nobles, but also of the chief burgh corporations and other public bodies of the kingdom. The scheme was carefully placed 'on a broad popular basis,' and it seems to have been arranged with as little publicity as was consistent with a wide representation of the nation. 'This was the starting of that great policy which had so much influence for centuries on both sides of the British Channel—the policy of France and Scotland taking common counsel against England.'

In the course of the early autumn of 1295, it is likely that Edward got wind of John's treasonable doings. He issued summonses for his memorable parliament of November. Perhaps as a feeler, he required John to expel all Frenchmen and Flemings, his enemies, from Scotland; otherwise, to put in his hands the three castles and towns of the eastern frontier—Berwick, Roxburgh, and Jedburgh. The first alternative was firmly refused; but it appears from an existing document that the castles were delivered over to the Bishop of Carlisle. On October 16, there are two remarkable records: one is the engagement of Edward to his 'beloved and faithful' John to redeliver the three castles and towns at the end of the French war; the other is a circular order to all the sheriffs in England to take into the King's hand all the lands and goods of Balliol and of all other Scotsmen staying in Scotland, within their respective jurisdictions. Were these castles ever delivered to Edward? That is to say, was the engagement of October 16 (with the order to the Bishop to take delivery, dated October 12) only anticipative, and never operative? There is, indeed, strong historical support to the view that the Scots absolutely refused both alternatives, and shook in Edward's face Pope Celestine's absolution of them from homage and fealty. The confiscation order was probably Edward's counterstroke. It was followed up on February 13 by an order for the sale of all goods on such lands, excepting only agricultural stock and implements, the proceeds to go into the Exchequer.

The inevitable collision was precipitated by an outbreak at Berwick, in which some English merchants were killed and their goods seized. On February 23, Edward issued urgent orders to hurry up the forces appointed to meet him at Newcastle-on-Tyne, directing that 'neither for assizes, gaol deliveries, or any other business' is the Sheriff of York to hinder the men of his county from arriving on the day fixed, apparently March 1. He summoned John to Newcastle to answer for the Berwick riot and his breaches of allegiance, but of course John declined the invitation.

About the middle of March, Edward moved to Wark, just abandoned by the romantically traitorous Robert de Ros; but he appears to have had scruples about commencing the invasion of Scotland till Easter was past. Then, on March 28, he passed the Tweed with 30,000 foot and 5000 armed horse, and on March 30 he took Berwick town without any effective opposition. As Burton records—

'There is an awful unanimity of testimony to the merciless use made of the victory. The writer who knew best of all describes the King as rabid, like a boar infested with the hounds, and issuing the order to spare none; and tells how the citizens fell like the leaves in autumn, until there was not one of the Scots who could not escape left alive, and he rejoices over their fate as a just judgment for their wickedness.'

The gallantry of the Flemings in defence of their Red Hall only ensured their destruction. 'Thus it was on the community among whom the protection of the Lord Superior was first sought that his vengeance first fell.' Berwick, 'the great city of merchant princes,' a 'second Alexandria,' was reduced to a common market-town. 'Such a massacre,' says Pearson, 'had not been witnessed within the four seas since the ravage of the North by the Conqueror. From this time a sea of blood lay between the English King and his Scottish dominion.' The castle was surrendered the same day by Sir William Douglas, on guarantee of the lives of the garrison. Edward remained at Berwick nearly a month, actively refortifying the town.

It was in Berwick Castle, on April 5, that Edward received John's formal renunciation. John bluntly complained that he had been vexatiously cited to England at the trifling instance of anybody and everybody; that, without fault on his part, Edward had taken possession of his and his subjects' castles, lands, and possessions within his kingdom of Scotland; that Edward had taken his and his subjects' goods by land and sea, and resetted them in England; that Edward had killed merchants and other inhabitants of his kingdom; that Edward had forcibly carried off subjects of his from Scotland, and detained them in prison in England; that Edward had paid no heed to his representations; and that Edward had publicly summoned his army, and had now come with 'an innumerable multitude of armed men' to strip him and his subjects of their inheritance, and had approached with hostile intent the boundaries of his kingdom—nay, had crossed them, and had committed atrocities of slaughter, arson, and violence by land and sea. John therefore resigned fealty and homage on behalf of himself and all others of his realm that might adhere to him. 'Has the felon fool done such a silly thing?' the King is said to have exclaimed. 'If he will not come to us, we will go to him.' But it is far from apparent why Edward should have manifested any such surprise.

On March 26, while Edward lay at Wark, a large body of Scots, under Comyn, Earl of Buchan, made a foray from Annandale into Cumberland, assaulting Carlisle (where Bruce of Annandale was governor), and burning a large part of the city. On April 8, too, a foray was made by the same body from Jedburgh into Northumberland, wasting Coquetdale and Redesdale, and burning Corbridge, Hexham, and Lanercost. These expeditions were futile and inglorious efforts of retaliation. The troops returned to Jedburgh, and then took possession of Dunbar Castle, to reduce which Edward despatched a strong force under Warenne. The governor of the castle, Sir Richard Siward, agreed with Warenne to surrender unless relieved within three days. On the morning of the third day, Balliol's army came in sight, and, mistaking an irregularity of movement of the English troops for a retreat, rushed upon them from a stronger position, and was defeated, with fearful slaughter. Barons and squires crowded for refuge in the castle; Sir Patrick de Graham, whose fruitless valour extorted the unanimous admiration of Englishmen, died sword in hand. The castle surrendered next day to Edward himself, who consigned the flower of the fighting strength of Scotland to a score of castles in England and Wales. There is much reason to doubt whether Siward did not prove a traitor; and it looks as if the Scots nobles were entirely ignorant of his agreement for surrender.

Scotland lay prostrate before the invader. Having appointed constables of the eastern border castles, Edward marched on Edinburgh, which surrendered after an eight days' siege. At Stirling he encountered no opposition: all had fled. Yet the record of the gaol delivery at Stirling on June 19 affords an interesting glimpse of the spirit of resistance. Thomas, the chaplain of Edinburgh, who was charged with publicly excommunicating the King with bell and candle, confessed frankly that he did so in the King's despite; and Richard Gulle, charged with ringing the bell, likewise confessed. Both culprits were, by order of Edward, delivered to the Archdeacon of Lothian.

On July 7, in the churchyard of Stracathro, John renounced his treaty with the King of France. And on July 10, in Brechin Castle, he formally resigned his kingdom and people, with his royal seal, to the Bishop of Durham, on behalf of the King of England. There was an end of 'Toom Tabard' as King of Scotland. He was kept in England at Hertford, the Tower, and elsewhere, till July 18, 1299, when he was delivered by Sir Robert de Burghersh, Constable of Dover, to the Papal Nuncio, Reynaud, Bishop of Vincenza, at Wissant in France, 'for disposal by his Holiness.' •He lived to hear of the decisive victory of Bannockburn.

From the middle of March onwards to autumn, homage and fealty were performed up and down Scotland to Edward and his representatives. Edward himself passed north to Elgin, and after a triumphal progress of twenty-one weeks returned to Berwick on August 22. He appointed John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey and Sussex, Governor of Scotland; Sir Hugh de Cressingham, Treasurer; and Sir William de Ormsby, Justiciar. He committed the subordinate wardenships, castles, and sheriffdoms to English officers. He made arrangements for the establishment of a new Treasury at Berwick, on the model of the Treasury at Westminster. He broke in pieces the ancient Great Seal of Scotland, and substituted a new seal. He had enforced his 'property and possession' of the realm of Scotland. Yet he left behind him the active germs of retribution.

Among Edward's spoliations were two notable national possessions. One was the Black or Holy Rood, 'a certified fragment of the true Cross preserved in a shrine of gold or silver gilt.' It had been brought over by St. Margaret, who left it as a sacred legacy to her descendants and their realm. The other, an even more honoured possession, was the Stone of Destiny—'the palladium of Scotland.' It was reputed to have been Jacob's pillow what time he saw the vision of the angels ascending and descending the ladder, and to have been brought to Scotland by the eponymous Scota the daughter of Pharaoh. It was enshrined in the coronation chair of the Kings of Scotland. Edward had it similarly enshrined in a chair that became the coronation throne of the Kings of England. His superstition might have been overawed by the prophetic coupletBoece says inscription-

'Ni fallat fatun, Scoti, quocunque locatuin
Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem.'

That is to say:

'Unless the Fates are faithless grown,
And prophet's voice be vain,
Where 'er is found this sacred stone,
The Scottish race shall reign.'

For a hundred years before the death of Alexander III., the peaceful administration and firm policy of the Scottish kings had immensely strengthened Scotland both in her internal organisation and in her external influence. It had inspired respect in the strongest of contemporary English sovereigns. Between Alexander III. and Edward I. there prevailed a genuine cordiality, based not more on family relationship than on political conduct. On the unexpected death of Alexander, the active mind of Edward must very promptly have perceived a great opportunity of annexing Scotland, as he had just annexed Wales. But strong-handed and imperious as he was, he was also governed by ideas of legal procedure, and still more by policy. Warrior as he was, he would still prefer to attain his ends by politic address. He could not in decency raise his mailed hand against the infant granddaughter of his own sister, or arbitrarily pick a quarrel with a friendly nation at accidental disadvantage by the tragic and premature death of his amicable brother-in-law. The project of marrying the child Queen to his eldest son was a stroke of policy of the happiest conception for the peaceful attainment of his purposes. The death of the Queen and the rivalry of the competitors threw him on fresh lines of action, plausibly justifiable by the necessity of protecting his own kingdom from the results of internal discord on the northern border. The prolongation of the dispute as to the succession appears to have been very much due to his waiting for the opening up of the smoothest line of advance. The preference of Balliol, after an ostentatiously elaborate process of legal formality, not only wore the aspect of a profound homage to law, but also placed on the throne of Scotland the candidate that would be most plastic in his hands. The successive steps show clearly, from the first idea of the marriage at least, the gradual and deliberate tightening of a resolute grasp upon the kingdom of Scotland. If Edward had really believed that he was entitled to the over-lordship of Scotland, it is extremely difficult to understand why he did not at once claim the wardship of the infant Margaret. The enforcement of such a claim would have been awkward enough at a moment when he needed all his force elsewhere but he might at least have put it forward. He could not have been unaware of this right if it had actually existed. Again, as Macpherson says, 'it seems very surprising that he did not claim the crown of Scotland for himself as heir of Malcolm Kenmore, whose grand-daughter Mald was his great-great-grandmother.' Such an astute intellect as his could not have been impressed with the documentary authorities arrayed by patriotic priests and supported by sycophantic officials. It is not easy to resist the conclusion that the claim was neither more nor less than a fraudulent contrivance of a semblance of legality to cover the aggression of a rapacious ambition. If the persecution of John was purely the outcome of Edward's 'exasperating legality,' it does as little credit to his political capacity as the atrocity of his vengeance at Berwick and his tyrannical settlement of the conquered country. Already, however, in the breast of an obscure young man in an obscure district of the west of Scotland there were surging turbulent feelings of personal and patriotic resentment, destined eventually to overturn all these calculations of ambitious aggression. That young man was William Wallace of Elderslie.

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