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The Scottish Nation
Baliol, Balliol

BALIOL, or BALLIOL, the name of a Norman baron, whose descendant was declared king of Scotland in 1292. He was possessor of Balleul, Harcourt, and other manors in Normandy, from the former of which he derived his name. His son, Guy de Baliol, came over to England with the Conqueror’s son, William Rufus, who appointed him lord of the forest of Teesdale and Marwood, and bestowed on him the lands of Middleton and Biwell in Northumberland. He had also lands in Yorkshire. His son, Bernard de Baliol, built the strong castle on the Tees, in the county of Durham, called Bernard Castle, and was forced by David the First of Scotland, in 1135, to swear fidelity to Matilda. Previous to the battle of the Standard, in 1138, the English sent Robert de Bruce and Bernard de Baliol to the Scottish army under David the First, to endeavour to procure peace, but the proposal was rejected with disdain, when Bruce renounced the homage which he had performed to David for a barony in Galloway, and Baliol also gave up the fealty, sworn to Matilda three years before. Adhering to the fortunes of King Stephen, Baliol was taken prisoner at the battle of Lincoln, with that monarch, 2d February 1141. On the incursion into Northumberland of the Scots in 1174, he was among the Yorkshire barons who, with Robert de Stutteville, hastened to the relief of Alnwick castle, then besieged by the Scottish king. During their hurried march a dense fog arose, and the more cautious advised a retreat, when Baliol exclaimed, "You may retreat, but I will go forward alone, and preserve my honour." In consequence they all advanced, and the returning light enabled them to descry the battlements of Alnwick castle. William, the Scottish king, was then in the fields with a slender train of sixty horsemen. At the head of these, however, he instantly charged the new comers, whose force was much larger. Being overpowered, and unhorsed, he was made prisoner by Baliol, and sent first to the castle of Richmond and afterwards to Falaise in Normandy. (Hailes’ Annals, vol. i. p. 115.) This feudal chief married Agnes de Pinkeny. His son, Eustace de Baliol, was the father of Hugh de Baliol, who, in 1216, was joined with Philip de Hulcotes in defence of the northern borders, and when Alexander the Second of Scotland had subdued the whole of Northumberland, these two barons held out stoutly all the fortresses upon the line of the Tees, particularly that of Bernard castle, the seat of the Baliol family, which was assaulted by Alexander, and before which Eustace de Vesci, the husband of his illegitimate sister, Margaret, was slain. Hugh de Baliol’s eldest son, John de Baliol, was one of the magnates of Henry the Third of England, whose cause he strenuously supported in his struggles with his barons. He was possessed of great wealth, having thirty knights’ fees, equal to twelve thousand pounds of modern money. He married Devorgilla, one of the three daughters and co - heiresses of Allan, lord of Galloway, by Margaret, eldest daughter of David, earl of Huntingdon, and in right of his wife he had large possessions in Scotland, and was one of the Regents during the minority of Alexander III. In 1263 he laid the foundation of one of the colleges at Oxford, which was completed by his widow, and still bears his name. He died in 1268. His son, John de Baliol, became temporary king of Scotland, by the award of Edward the First. Of this John de Baliol a notice is given below.

      Alexander de Baliol, the brother of John, king of Scots, being in the retinue of Antony Beck, the celebrated bishop of Durham, in the expedition of Edward the First to Flanders, was restored to all his bother’s lands in Scotland in 1297, and on 26th September 1300, he was summoned by writ to parliament till the 3d November 1306, under the title of Baron Baliol. He married Isabell, daughter and heiress of Richard de Chilham, and widow of David de Strathbogie, earl of Athol, by whom he obtained for life the castle and manor of Chilliam in the county of Kent. Dying without issue, the barony of Baliol in consequence became extinct.

      There were several collateral branches of the name of Baliol in Scotland, whose names appear as donors and witnesses in the cloister registers. In the Ragman Roll, also, four or five of them are mentioned. One of these, Alexander de Balliolo, Camerarius Scotiae, was baron of Cavers in Teviotdale. As chamberlain of Scotland he has a place in the Lives of the Officers of State, (page 266.) The name of Baliol is supposed, (Nesbit's Heraldry, vol. i. p. 178,) to have been changed to Baillie (see BAILLIE), having become odious in Scotland.

BALIOL, JOHN, some time king of Scotland, -was the son of John de Baliol of Bernard castle, county of Durham, the founder of Baliol college, Oxford, as already stated, by his wife, the Lady Devorgilla, granddaughter of David, earl of Huntingdon, and is supposed to have been born about 1260. On the death, in 1290, of Margaret the "Maiden of Norway," granddaughter of Alexander the Third, no less than thirteen competitors came forward for the vacant throne of Scotland. Of these, John de Baliol and Robert de Bruce, lord of Annandale, were the principal. Baliol claimed as being great-grandson to the earl of Huntingdon, younger brother of William the Lion, by his eldest daughter, Margaret; and Bruce as grandson by his second daughter, Isabella; that is, the former as direct heir, and as nearest of right, and the latter as nearest in blood and degree. According to the rules of succession which are now established, the right of Baliol was preferable; but the protest and appeal of the seven earls of Scotland to Edward, brought to light by Sir Francis Palgrave, shows that in that age the order of succession was not ascertained with precision, and that the prejudices of the people and even the ancient laws of the kingdom favoured the claims of Bruce, and to this circumstance the unhappy results which followed may in a great measure be attributed. The competitors agreed to refer their claims to the arbitration of Edward the First of England, who straightway asserted and extended his claim of feudal superiority to an extent never attempted by any of his predecessors. He met the Scottish nobility and clergy at Norham on the 10th May, 1291, and required them to recognise his title as lord paramount. At their request he granted them a term of three weeks in order that they might consult together, at which period he required them to return a definitive answer. In the meantime he had commanded his barons to assemble at Norham with all their forces, on the 3d June. On the 2d he gave audience to the Scots in an open field, near Upsettlington, on the north bank of the Tweed, opposite to the castle of Norham, and within the territory of Scotland. At this assembly eight of the competitors for the crown were present, who all acknowledged Edward as lord paramount of Scotland, and agreed to abide by his decision. Bruce was among them, but Baliol was absent. The next day Baliol appeared, and on being asked by the chancellor of England whether he was willing to make answer as the others had done, after an affected pause, he pronounced his assent.

      Edward, going beyond his mere claim as overlord or superior of Scotland, now brought forward a right of property in the kingdom, and demanded to be put in possession of it, on the specious pretext that he might deliver it to him to whom the crown was found justly to belong. Even this strange demand was acceded to, all the competitors agreeing that sasine of the kingdom and its fortresses should be given to Edward. On the 11th, therefore, the regents of Scotland made a solemn surrender of the kingdom into Edward’s hands, and the keepers of castles surrendered their castles. The only demur was on the part of Gilbert de Umfraville, earl of Angus, who would not give up the castles of Dundee and Forfar, without a bond of indemnification. (See ante, page 127.) Edward immediately restored the custody of the kingdom to the regents, Fraser, bishop of St. Andrews, Wishart, bishop of Glasgow, John Comyn of Badenoch, and James, the steward of Scotland. The final hearing of the competition took place, on the 17th November 1292, in the hall of the castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed, when Edward confirmed the judgments of his commission and parliament by giving judgment in his favour. On the 19th the crown was formally declared to belong to him, and the next day he swore fealty for it to Edward at Norham. On the 30th of the same month, Baliol was crowned at Scone, and being immediately recalled to England, was compelled to renew his homage to Edward at Newcastle. In the course of a year, Baliol was four times summoned to appear before Edward in the parliament of England. Roused by the indignities heaped upon him while there, he ventured to remonstrate, and would consent to nothing which might be construed into an acknowledgment of the jurisdiction of the English parliament. Having, on the 23d October, 1295, concluded a treaty with Philip, king of France, Baliol, who at times was not without spirit, which, however, he wanted firmness to sustain, solemnly renounced his allegiance to Edward, and obtained the Pope’s absolution from the oaths which he had taken. Edward received the intelligence of his renunciation with contempt rather than with anger. "The foolish traitor," said he to Baliol’s messenger, "since he will not come to us, we will go to him." With a large army he immediately marched towards Scotland. In the meantime, a small party of Scots crossed the borders, and plundered Northumberland and Cumberland. They took the castle of Werk, and slew a thousand of the English. King Edward, on the other hand, having taken Berwick, put all the garrison and inhabitants to the sword. The Scots army were defeated at Dunbar, 28th April, 1296, and the castles of Dunbar, Edinburgh, and Stirling falling into Edward’s hands, Baliol was obliged to retire beyond the river Tay. On July 10, 1296, in the churchyard of Stracathro, near Montrose, in presence of Anthony Beck, bishop of Durham and the English nobles, he surrendered his crown and sovereignty into the hands of the English monarch, and was divested of everything belonging to the state and dignity of a king. He was thereafter, with his son, sent to London, and imprisoned in the Tower, where he remained till July 20, 1299, when, on the intercession of the Pope, he and his son were delivered up to his legate. "Thus ended," says Lord Hailes, "the short and disastrous reign of John Baliol, an ill-fated prince, censured for doing homage to Edward, never applauded for asserting the national independency. Yet, in his original offence he had the example of Bruce; at his revolt he saw the rival family combating under the banners of England. His attempt to shake off a foreign yoke speaks him of a high spirit, impatient of injuries. He erred in enterprising beyond his strength; in the cause of liberty it was a meritorious error. He confided in the valour and unanimity of his subjects, and in the assistance of France. The efforts of his subjects were languid and discordant; and France beheld his ruin with the indifference of an unconcerned spectator." Baliol retired to his estates in France, where he died in 1314. At left is a cast of the seal of John Baliol, while king of Scotland, from Anderson’s Diplomata Scotiae.

During the subsequent contest in Scotland under Wallace, the assertors of the national independence maintained the rights of Baliol, and Wallace, so long as he held authority, acted as governor of the kingdom under him and in his name. To the unpopularity of the family and of Baliol’s brother, who had taken part with Edward, may in part be attributed the partial support which the great patriot received in his struggle. For the rest of his life, John Baliol resided as a private man in France, without interfering in the affairs of Scotland. Some writers say that he lived till he was blind, which must have been the effect of some disease and not of old age, as he could not have been, at the time of his death, above fifty-five years old at the utmost. He married Isabel, daughter of John de Warren, earl of Surrey. The Scots affixed the contemptuous epithet of Toom Tabard (empty jacket) to Baliol, their temporary king.—Dalrymple’s Annals of Scotland, vol. i.

BALIOL, EDWARD, eldest son of the preceding, succeeded, on the death of his father, to his estates in France, where he resided in a private manner for several years. In 1824 he was invited over by Edward the Second of England, to be brought forward as a rival to Robert the Bruce, and in 1327, at the request of Edward the Third, he again visited England with the same object. His first active appearance on the scene was on the following occasion: Some of the Anglo-Norman barons possessed estates in Scotland, which were forfeited during the war with England. By the treaty of Northampton in 1328, whereby the independence of Scotland was secured, their estates in that country were restored to the English barons. Two of these, Thomas Lord Wake, and Henry de Beaumont, having in vain endeavoured to procure possession, joined Baliol, when, after the death of Bruce, he resolved to attempt the recovery of what he considered his birthright. In Caxton’s Chronicle it is stated, that in 1331, having taken the part of an English servant of his who had killed a Frenchman, Baliol was himself imprisoned in France, and only released on the intercession of the Lord de Beaumont, who advised him to come over to England, and set up his claim to the Scottish crown. King Edward did not openly countenance the enterprise. With three hundred men at arms, and a few foot soldiers, Baliol and his adherents sailed from Ravenspur on the Humber, then a port of some importance, but overwhelmed by the sea some centuries since, and landing at Kinghorn, August 6, 1332, defeated the earl of Fife, who endeavoured to oppose them. The army of Baliol, increased to three thousand men, marched to Forteviot, near Perth, where they encamped with the river Earn in front. On the opposite bank lay the regent of the kingdom, the earl of Mar, with upwards of thirty thousand men, on Dupplin Moor. At midnight, the English force forded the Earn, and attacking the sleeping Scots, slew thirteen thousand of them, including the earls of Mar and Moray. Baliol then hastened to Perth, where he was unsuccessfully besieged by the earl of March, whose force he dispersed. On the 24th of September, 1332,  Edward Baliol was crowned king at Scone. On the 10th of February 1333, he held a parliament at Edinburgh, consisting of what are known as the disinherited barons, with seven bishops, including both William of Dunkeld, and it is said Maurice of Dunblane, the abbot of Inchaffray, who there agreed to the humiliating conditions proposed by Edward the Third. His good fortune now forsook him. On the 16th December, within three months after, he was surprised in his encampment at Annan by the young earl of Moray, the second son of Randolph, the late regent, Archibald Douglas, brother of the good lord James, Simon Fraser, and others of the heroes of the old war of Scotland’s independence, and his army being overpowered, and his brother Henry, with many of his chief adherents, slain, he escaped nearly naked and almost alone to England. Having on the 23d of November preceding sworn feudal service to the English monarch, the latter marched an army across the borders to his assistance, and the defeat of the Scots at Halidon Hill, July 19, 1333, again enabled Baliol to usurp for a brief space the nominal sovereignty of Scotland. At right is a cast of the seal of Edward Baliol from Anderson's Diplomata Scotiae.

      He now renewed his homage to Edward III., and ceded to him the town and county of Berwick, with the counties of Roxburgh, Selkirk, Peebles, Dumfries, and the Lothians, in return for the aid he had rendered him. In 1334 he was again compelled to fly to England. In July 1335 he was restored by the arms of the English monarch. In 1338, being by the regent, Robert Stewart, closely pressed at Perth, where this restless intruder, supported by the English interest, held his nominal court, he again became a fugitive. After this he made several attempts to be re-established on the throne, but the nation never acknowledged him; their allegiance being rendered to David the Second, infant son of Robert the Bruce. At last, worn out by constant fighting and disappointment, in 1356 he sold his claim to the sovereignty, and his family estates, to Edward the Third, for five thousand merks, and a yearly pension of two thousand pounds sterling, with which he retired into obscurity, and died childless at Doncaster in 1363. With him ended the line of Baliol.—Tytlers’s History of Scotland.

Baliol from the Dictionary of National Biography

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