Imagens da página

pared for the King of Scotland's answer, 'that he had come to marry the Princess of England, and not to treat of affairs of State, and that he could not take so important a step without the advice of his Parliament.' He knew that to homage for his kingdom of Scotland no one had any right but God alone, nor did he hold it of any, but of God. The little queen, Margaret, was sent to live in the castle of Edinburgh, and many were her grievances. It was a 'sad and solitary place, without verdure, and by reason of its vicinity to the sea unwholesome: she was not permitted to make excursions through the kingdom, nor to choose her female attendants :'1 and she was obliged to live apart from her husband.

In 1263, Haco, King of Norway, invaded Scotland. His fleet perished in a hurricane, and his troops were defeated at Largs, on the 2d of October. This event terminated the Norwegian rule which had existed in the Western Islands, and on part of the mainland ever since the successful expedition of King Harold Harfager, early in the tenth century. In the year 1266, Magnus IV., King of Norway, ceded to Alexander III., King of Scots, Man, and the whole of the Western Islands, excepting Orkney and Zetland, which were reserved to the crown of Norway. In terms of the treaty between the kings, Alexander was to pay down a ransom of a thousand merks, and an annual rent of a hundred merks. In 1281 peace was further cemented with Norway by the marriage of Margaret, the daughter of the King of Scots, to Eric, King of Norway. King Haco had died at Orkney soon after the calamity of Largs. We are told that the old Norse king, with Viking blood in his veins, 'did his best to follow the precepts of his spiritual advisers; but the legends of old battle-fields got the better of the

1 M. Paris, 610; cited by Hailes, vol. i. p. 199.

legends of the saints. He had read to him first the Bible, then the Lives of the Saints, but at last he demanded to have read to him, day and night, while he was awake, the chronicles of the Norwegian kings, from Haldan the Black downwards.'1 The chief ecclesiastical events of this reign were the acquisition of the diocese of Man by the cession of the Western Isles, the introduction of the Carmelite Friars 2 in the year 1260, and the completion of a valuationroll of the Scottish benefices, called Bagimont's Roll, which served for the apportionment of ecclesiastical taxes until the Reformation.3

In 1275, Queen Margaret died. She had borne two sons,— Alexander, who married a daughter of the Count of Flanders, and David, who died in childhood, and one daughter, Margaret, who was married to Eric, King of Norway. In 1284, Alexander, the eldest son, died, leaving no children. Margaret, the Queen of Norway, died in 1283, after giving birth to a daughter, the Princess Margaret, who is known in his

1 Burton, vol. ii. p. 108.

a 'The third order of the Begging-friars was the Carmelites, who had their beginning and name from Mount Carmel in Syria.' —Keith's Scottish Bishops, ed. Russel, p. 454. The Carmelite convents in Scotland were at Tullilum, near Perth, Dunbar, Linlithgow, Queensferry, Aberdeen, Bervie, Irvine, Banff, St. Andrews, and Greenside, near Edinburgh.

8 Hitherto taxes to Rome had been levied in the Scottish Church according to an old valuation, much beneath the real worth. In 1275, Baiamund de Vicci was commissioned by the Holy See to assess the clergy according to the 'Verus Valor ' of their benefices. They sent him back to Rome to entreat the Pope that the subsidy of the Scottish Church might be levied according to the ancient valuation. His journey and his entreaties were, however, in vain, and the new taxation was accordingly levied. See P1ef. to Statuta Ecclesice Scoticante, p. lxv. to p. Ixvii.

tory as the Maiden of Norway. After the death of his queen, the King of Scots being a childless widower, the prospects for the future of the nation were ominous. In 1285, in his forty-fifth year, he married Joleta, daughter of the Count de Dreux. But his happy reign was drawing to a close. The evening of the 12th of March 1286 was dark and stormy. It was well befitting the approach of a time of sorrow and of mourning, than which none more dreadful had befallen any nation. King Alexander was warned by his attendants of the peril of riding in the dusk along the precipice on the sea-coast of Fife betwixt Burntisland and Kinghorn. But he would not heed them, and set forth. His horse stumbling among the loose stones, he was pitched over the precipice, and was killed on the spot. In the records of the coming centuries we shall find how true it is that, turn where we may in the story of Scotland,' weakness is nowhere ; power, energy, and will are everywhere ;' and that Scotland is that 'marvellous country, so fertile in genius and chivalry, so fertile in madness and crime, where the highest heroism co-existed with preternatural ferocity; yet where the vices were the vices of strength, and the one virtue of indomitable courage was found alike in saint and sinner.' 'Often,' says the historian of England, ' the course of this history will turn aside from the broad river of English life to where the torrents are leaping, passion-swollen, down from the northern hills. . . . Sterile as the landscape where it will first unfold itself, we shall watch the current winding its way with expanding force and features of enlarging magnificence, till at length the rocks and rapids will have passed —the stream will have glided down into the plain to the meeting of the waters, from which, as from a new fountain, the united fortunes of Great Britain flow on to their unknown destiny.'1

1 Froude's His!, of England, vol. iv. pp. 2, 3.



'When Alexander our king was dead,
That Scotland led in love and le,
Awaye was wealth of ale and bread,

Of wine and wax, of game and glee:
Our gold was changyd into lede.

Christ borne into virgynyte,

Succour Scotland and remede,

That stad is in perplexyte.'


Margaret, the infant daughter of Eric, King of Norway, was, through her mother the daughter of Alexander III., the heir-apparent to the Scottish throne. When her grandfather met his sudden death, it was all but impossible for the nation simultaneously to acknowledge in 'the frail child away in Norway' a sovereign and a protector. But the national mind, recovering from the shock of its great bereavement, remembered that she was, and confessed with thankfulness that it had still a Queen. Still there was a novelty and an insecurity in such a succession; no female sovereign had ever ruled in Scotland; there was a wide-spread anxiety that it might not answer; and indeed there were certain nobles of the blood-royal, who, perceiving in themselves fitter occupants of a desirable throne, and more appropriate governors of a warlike people, were very certain that it would not answer at all. For two years after Alexander's death there was a stir amongst those who stood near the throne. A regency was formed of six of the chief men of the kingdom, including Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, and Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow. When matters were growing serious between those who were envious of the young Queen's realm, the guardians craved the assistance of Edward l., King of England. Edward had been only tarrying for this event, which his foresight had anticipated. The passion of his ambitious heart was the possession of the whole island of Great Britain; he had already conquered Wales, and it seemed as if circumstances were about to place in his hands Scotland also. From the first he resolved not to let slip so desirable a match for his eldest son as the young heiress and her ' broad lands.' The Prince of Wales and Margaret were, however, first cousins, and therefore within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity. But Edward lost no time in applying to the Pope for a dispensation for their union, and his proposals being accepted by the Regency, the dignified clergy and nobility wrote to him in exuberant spirits at the marriage of 'our dear lady and our Queen with Prince Edward.'

A marriage treaty was concluded between the ambassadors of England and the guardians, clergy, earls, barons, and whole community of Scotland (at Brigham, 18th July 1290). But long before the two nations were to meet in a peaceful union, it was the Divine will that they should undergo a terrible discipline of war and bloodshed. A 'cloudy and dark' day was at hand. After the treaty was signed, it was considered expedient that the Maiden of Norway should come to take possession of her dominions; and in September a Commission was sent to Norway to receive her from her father, preparations being meanwhile made for her due reception in her future

« AnteriorContinuar »