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policy which his failing strength, but never exhausted fury, could suggest. 'Out of his wit he went weel near,'1 says the biographer of Bruce. He issued a code of revengeful penal laws against every follower of Bruce. He applied to the Pope for letters of excommunication against him for sacrilege, which were granted without delay. He hanged his fair young brother, Nigel Bruce, and his brother-in-law Christopher Seton, together with other Scottish noblemen, for treason; and he took captive Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, and Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, who were at this time on the Scottish side. He sent Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, to be Governor of Scotland in place of John de Bretagne. Then he summoned all the young nobility of England to receive knighthood with the Prince of Wales, preparatory to gathering together an invincible host for the destruction of Scotland. During the royal banquet, which followed the reception of knighthood, the minstrels placed on the table two swans in nets of gold, and the King vowed before God and the swans that he would revenge the slaughter of Comyn, and punish the perfidy of the rebels. Addressing the company, he conjured them in the event of his death on the journey to keep his body unburied till they had enabled his son to accomplish his vow, and the son swore that he would not sleep two nights in the same place till he had entered Scotland. Next morning the march to the north began. The day was past when the King could ride on his war-horse at the head of his troops. But he followed in a litter, with as much celerity as his aged and feeble frame could bear. It was all in vain. He reached Carlisle in the March of 1307, having started from London in the summer of 1306. There he exchanged his litter for a horse, and set off bravely towards
1 The Brus, by John Barbour, edit. Spalding Club, p. 33.
the Solway. He only got, however, to Burgh-on-the-Sands, and being in' full sight of the blue hills of that country wherewith he had so fearfully striven, King Edward I. went to his great account on the 7th of July 1307, ratifying on his deathbed the vow that he had made before starting for Scotland. He made his son swear by all the saints, that his body should be boiled in a caldron until the flesh separated from the bones; that the flesh should be then deposited in the earth, and the bones preserved unburied; and that so often as the Scots rebelled against England, the army should be assembled, and the bones carried along with it to Scotland. For the honour of humanity this horrible legacy of 'the greatest of the Plantagenets' was not complied with, and Edward I. was buried respectably in the sepulchre of his fathers at Westminster.
Robert I. had been only three months a king when he entered upon that hunted life which was to be his portion for many years. Having been attacked near Perth by Pembroke, the English regent, he retreated, with the remnant of his little army, to the mountains of Athole. From thence certain of the party would occasionally wander down to the lowlands of Aberdeenshire in quest of provisions, and on one of these expeditions Robert met Elizabeth, his queen, and his daughter Marjory,1 with their ladies, at Aberdeen. They returned with him to the mountains, and soon after the forlorn court removed, for still greater security, to the wilds of Breadalbane. There a precarious subsistence was gained by hunting and fishing; and special mention is made of the exertions made by the 'good Lord James Douglas,' the son of William, the fourth Lord Douglas, to add to the comfort of every one. 'There was not ane amang them there, that to the lady's profit was mair.'2 He
1 Marjory was his daughter by his first wife, the daughter of the Earl of Mar. 'The Brus, p. 46.
was Brace's most true and faithful friend, and the life of the company, taking with cheerfulness what must have been very real hardships to one who had been reared in the luxury of the court of France. Indeed, the wild existence had its fascinations, for Lord James used to say that he 'liked better to hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep.' However amusing the novelty of this way of living may have proved to the ladies at first, their health and spirits soon failed under its unvarying hardship. A council was held, at which it was decided to send them to the strong castle of Kildrummy, in Mar, and thither they were escorted by Nigel Bruce and a guard of three hundred cavalry. Robert never met his brother again, for he was -before long taken prisoner by Edward, and executed. Queen Elizabeth and the Princess Marjory were also captured, and committed to English prisons for eight years. Elizabeth was treated in a manner becoming her rank as Countess of Carrick; an English manor was to be her prison; she was to have 'a waiting-woman and a maid-servant advanced in life, sedate, and of good conversation: a butler, two menservants, and a foot-boy, for her chamber, sober and not riotous, to make her bed: three greyhounds when she inclines to hunt : venison, fish, and the fairest house in the manor.' l The brave Countess of Buchan, who had had the audacity to place the crown on Brace's head, suffered a bitter punishment. She was shut up in a cage-like prison, in one of the turrets of Berwick Castle, where for four years the poor mountain-bird fluttered her wings, till in pity she was sent to a milder captivity. King Robert met Pembroke again, at Loudon Hill, in Ayrshire, and in this encounter he seems to have been successful. But being before this beset on all sides by his enemies, including John of Lorn, a rela
1 Fcedcra, t. ii. p. 1013; cited by Hailes, vol. ii. p. 13.
tion of the Red Comyn, and other Highland chiefs, he was obliged to seek a still more inaccessible refuge, and appears in Arran and Kintyre and the Isle of Rachrin. We are told that he would often beguile the dreary winter evenings, both to cheer his companions, and to force himself to hope on against hope, by telling them stories of the ultimate triumph of perseverance, wherewith his mind was richly stored; and we are told also that, when living the life of a common soldier, and possessed of no more comforts and luxuries than a savage, the demeanour of the gentleman who had been educated in the highest court of Norman chivalry never forsook him. The death of Edward I. in 1307 was the most favourable event that ever happened for the cause of Scottish independence. It was well indeed for that cause that Edward II. had nothing in him of Edward I. The new King of England toiled on with his enormous army as far as Ayrshire, and then, abandoning the invasion, he returned across the Border. The fortunes of Bruce were altered immediately, and multitudes nocked to his standard; in 1310 a provincial synod met at Dundee, and the clergy issued a declaration that they had willingly joined with the laity in raising him to the throne; whilst, one by one, the national fortresses were, in the course of a few years, surrendered to him by their English keepers. By the year 1313, Stirling Castle, that devoted citadel, alone remained in the hands of England, A treaty was entered into between Philip de Mowbray, the Governor, and Edward Bruce, in terms whereof the castle was to be surrendered before the Feast of St. John the Baptist in the midsummer of the following year, 1314, if not relieved by an English army. Bruce, although seriously displeased at his brother's rash treaty, which gave the enemy six months' leisure to prepare an army, could not, consistently with his knightly honour, undo what had been done, and accordingly he consented once and for ever to fling the fate of his country into a fearful balance by meeting the English at the appointed time. With surprising energy King Edward II. determined not to lose a day in beginning his preparations on a scale of unprecedented magnitude for the conquest of Scotland. The entire military force of the kingdom was called out, and ninetythree barons, forgetting their private grievances that they might unite in the common cause, answered his summons with their whole feudal service. Twenty-seven thousand foot-soldiers were to be raised in the counties of England and Wales, and Edward wrote to the Prince of Connaught and to twenty-five other Irish chiefs to bring over all the force they could muster, whilst those English barons who possessed estates in Ireland summoned their Irish following to attend without delay. In addition to the land force an armament was equipped for sea, and all the sea-ports were commanded to fit up ships, independently of the ordinary English fleet. In good time the Earl of Pembroke, as Governor of Scotland, was sent on before to get all in readiness for Edward's arrival.
Every emergency was thoughtfully provided for by a force of smiths, armourers, carpenters, and masons ; and in this department, which was placed under a strict organization, there were abundance of waggons and carts to carry tents, pavilions, and baggage, and, indeed, every article of comfort and luxury, for mention is made of one hundred and sixty carts laden with poultry. There were also carts full of stone and metal bullets, the sort of ammunition needed by those unwieldy battering machines which were used in sieges. Perhaps under the circumstances it was not considered necessary to provide largely for the removal of the spoils of the conquered country. Altogether the multitude of carriages, if extended in one line, would have spread over sixty miles in length. With his enormous and well-appointed army