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home. King Edward sent a ship laden with an enormous store of provisions for the voyage to Scotland,—not forgetting a stock of little luxuries for the comfort of the baby-queen, such as figs, raisins, sugar, and gingerbread. On the way over she was seized with a sickness, brought on, we may infer, by the pain of leaving her father to go away alone among strangers, and from exposure in the end of September on the chilly northern seas. It became absolutely necessary that she should rest by the way, and she was landed at Orkney. But her fragile infant frame had no power to rally, and she died soon after landing, being in her seventh year. The nation was stricken with a panic when the intelligence was first rumoured, and then verified, of that quiet death-bed in the desolate Orkneys. The frail link in the long line of kings that had been unbroken and all but uninterrupted since the reign of Canmore, had snapped, and Scotland was without a king and without an heir-apparent. Perhaps among the thousands who could see a fearful future for their country, there were some to whom the child was dear, who were full of gratitude to the merciful Father who had thus taken her from a precarious life on her beleaguered throne. What would have awaited her may be conjectured from the fact, that after her death ten barons stood up as competitors for the kingdom, each one founding his claims on relationship more or less remote to the line of Alexander III. The two whose claims were the most apparent were John de Baliol, Lord of Galloway, who was the grandson of Margaret, the eldest daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, the brother of William the Lion; and Robert de Bruce, Lord of A1mandale, who was the son of Isabel, the second daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon.1 It was
1 The other claimants were Florence, Count of Holland, Sir John de Hastings, Patric de Dunbar, Earl of March, William de plain that the question must be decided by a litigation or by war. Eager to escape the wretchedness of the latter alternative, the Scots requested, or at least accepted, the assistance of Edward I. in the decision of the succession. Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, has been severely blamed by our historians for writing, on the rumour of the Queen's death, to Edward, entreating him to ' approach our borders, to comfort the people of Scotland, and prevent the effusion of blood.' Most graciously did the King of England come to the rescue. His exquisite diplomacy, his pity and tender disinterested energy in flying to the aid of the perplexed people, his considerate postponement of all other business, his disregard of toils and fatigues, his adjournment of one meeting after another that all parties might have time to think over what was best to be done, drew a veil over his real intentions during the thirteen assemblies or courts whereat he presided from May till August 1291, in which the preliminary proceedings for the adjustment of the succession were formally discussed. In a conference held on the 3d of June, on the south of the Tweed, within the great castle of Norham, Edward requested that the Scottish representatives present would acknowledge him as Lord Paramount and Superior of the realm of Scotland. There being some demur, the meeting was adjourned for three weeks. At the end of that time all re-assembled, in a meadow on the north bank of Tweed, being, for significant reasons, on Scottish ground, but directly opposite the English castle of Norham. The ten competitors, including Robert Bruce, the grandfather of him whom we shall hear of afterwards as the restorer of the liberties of his country, then sealed an instrument of the following tenor :—' Forasmuch as the King o1
Ros, William de Vesci, Robert de Pinkeny, Nicolas de Soulis, John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, and Eric, King of Norway.
England has evidently shown to us, that the sovereign seignory of Scotland, and the right of determining our respective pretensions, belong to him ; we, therefore, of our own free will, and without compulsion, have agreed to receive judgment from him as our Lord Paramount, and we become bound to submit to his decision, and consent that he shall possess the kingdom to whom he awards it.' With almost one accord the historians of Scotland denounce in the strongest terms this deliberate renunciation made by these ten great barons of the freedom of their country. It is, however, confessed that the temptation to which they yielded was a great one. Each claimant knew,—if he knew anything of the King of England,—that he who laid himself in the most humiliating manner at his feet had the best chance of the Scottish kingdom, and even though that kingdom be received as a mere fief of the crown of England, better to try for it, such as it was, than to play a desperate and apparently a hopeless game against all the powers of the English and of the chief nobility in his 'own country for an independent and therefore a more glorious crown. Very dazzling must have been the possibility of any crown to some of the competitors, who until recently could scarcely have seriously considered it. Besides this, most of these ten barons held large estates in both England and Scotland, and resistance to the supremacy of Edward would run the risk of forfeiting them all. Their infidelity to Scotland cannot be too severely censured, but the measure of their temptation should not be forgotten. King Edward having thus laid a solid foundation for his plans, and the case having been formally put into his hands, he proceeded to work it with deliberation and sagacity. On the 3d of August he summoned another great court, and then it was decided that the two chief competitors, Baliol and Bruce, should each choose forty men, and that Edward should choose twenty-four, who were to act as arbiters in the momentous case. After this all parties adjourned till June 1292. In the meantime the King of England was not idle. He obtained possession of the national fortresses, and commanded certain commissioners to rummage in the castle of Edinburgh for any record or document that he fondly hoped might in some way, however remote, give a parchment countenance to his superiority. The question to be decided by the arbiters was this: 'By the laws and usages of both kingdoms, does the issue of the eldest sister, though more remote in one degree, exclude the issue of the second sister, though nearer in one degree; or ought the nearer in one degree, issuing from the second sister, to exclude the more remote in one degree issuing from the eldest sister?' The answer to this question would decide who was to be king of Scotland.CHAPTER XVI.
'Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
S1r Walter Scott.
In the hall of the castle of Berwick, the great cause was brought to a termination on the seventeenth day of November in the year 1292, when in the presence of the King of England and of the English and Scottish nobility, the following declaration of the legal decision was announced and submitted to :—That by The laws and usages of both kingdoms, in every heritable succession, the more remote in one degree lineally descended from the eldest sister was preferable to the nearest in one degree issuing from the second sister; and in virtue of this decision John Baliol was decreed to be the successful competitor for the crown of Scotland. Then the Great Seal of the northern kingdom was