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train for the express purpose of celebrating in heroic verse the victory of the English at Bannockburn. For his appropriate ransom he was appointed to sing the victory of the Scots at Bannockburn, which he did in an excellent and spirited poem.
Although, after the victory of Bannockburn, the impossible task of the subjugation of Scotland was tacitly relinquished, and its separate existence as an independent sovereignty was no longer called in question, when King Robert, being now seated on his hard-won throne, wrote to the King of England declaring that his chief wish was that a lasting peace should be settled between the two countries, the latter, not yet wearied of bloodshed and strife, refused to concede an acknowledgment of the freedom of the northern kingdom, and to treat Bruce as a sovereign. This perverse obstinacy was held amply sufficient to justify a Scottish visitation in the well-known ferocious manner to Northumberland.
Self-defence and ' licensed marauding' were the life-long occupations of the unhappy Borderers. 'The scanty families in the fortified farms and granges in Roxburgh and Northumberland slept with their swords under their pillows, and their horses saddled in their stables. The blood of the children by the fireside was stirred by tales of wild adventure in song and story; and perhaps for two centuries no boy ever grew to man's estate, along a strip of land forty miles across and joining the two seas, who had not known the midnight terror of a blazing homestead, who had not seen his father or brother ride out at dusk harnessed and belted for some night foray, to be brought back before morning gory and stark across his saddle, and been roused from his bed by his mother to swear with his child-lips a vow of revenge over the corpse.'1 The Border warfare on the Scots
1 Froude's Hist. of England, vol. iv. p. 4.
side, or rather the chronic invasion of England, was carried on by King Robert's greatest generals, Douglas and Randolph. The hardy manners, and boundless capacities for endurance of the wild Scottish troops moved the ' Southrons' to envy and admiration. 'They carry with them no carts nor chariotts, ... no provision of bread nor wyne, for their soberness is such in tyme of war that they will live on flesh half sodden, without bread, and drink of the river water without wyne, and they neither care for pots or pans, for they dress beastis in their own skins. . . . On their horse they carry a broad plate of metal, and behind the saddle they have a little sack full of oatmeal, to the intent that when they have eaten of the sodden flesh, then they lay this plate on the fyre, and temper a lyttle of the oatmeal: and when the plate is hot, they cast of the thin paste thereon, and so make a lyttle cake in manner of a cracknell or bysket, and that they eat to comfort withal their stomachs. Therefore it is no great marvel that they make greater journeys than other people.'l
On the 1st of May 1315, a great Parliament met at Ayr, when, with the consent of King Robert, of his only child the Princess Marjory, and of 'all and singular,' it was settled that should the King die without heirs-male his brother Edward should succeed to the throne. Soon after this settlement Robert bestowed his daughter in marriage on Walter, the hereditary Lord High Steward of Scotland,2 who had distinguished himself at Bannockburn. In May of the same year, a mad project was formed for liberating the Irish from
1 Froissart's Chronicles of England and France, reprinted from Pynson's edition of 1523 and 1525, vol. i. pp. 18, 19.
* We have no certain evidence concerning the family of Stewart till the reign of David I., when Walter, the son of Alan, appears as Steward of Scotland.
the yoke of England, partly to provide occupation for Edward Bruce, now Earl of Carrick, a restless being, who was only happy on bloody battle-fields, and who was seized with the ambitious idea of endeavouring to become King of Ireland.1 He was successful for a time, his brother came personally to his aid, and Edward was crowned King, but in 1318 he perished, together with numbers of the Scots,— a reckless waste of men and money, when both were sorely needed to carry on the wars at home.
In 1317, Pope John xxu. commanded a truce between the English and the Scots, which was to last for two years, and for the enforcement of his bull two cardinals were sent into Britain. King Robert courteously received the Pope's messengers, and heard what they had to say. The sealed Pontifical Letter was then handed to him, and he read the address: 'To the noble lord Robert Bruce, carrying himself as King of Scotland.' The King was insulted, and refused to open the letter. 'Since my father the Pope, and my mother the Church, are unwilling to prejudice either party, by giving me the title of king, they ought not to prejudice me during the controversy by refusing that title; as I both hold possession of the kingdom, receive the title of king from all its inhabitants, and am addressed under that title by other princes. But my spiritual parents assume an evident partiality among their sons. Had you presumed to offer letters so addressed to other kings, you might, perhaps, have been otherwise answered.' 'All this,' says one of the cardinals in .his account of the interview to Pope John, 'was said in an affable manner, and with a pleasant countenance, evincing all due reverence for your Holiness and the Church.' The cardinal concluded by expressing his opinion that no letters need be sent to Scotland unless the title of King be conceded.
1 The Brus, p. 321.
Notwithstanding this resistance, the Pope determined to enforce the truce; and Adam Newton, a friar minor of Berwick, was employed in this 'delicate and -hazardous enterprise' at the very time that King Robert was labouring day and night in the construction of various machines intended for the destruction of Berwick. The friar's mission was unsuccessful, and the border town was recovered by the Scots; and as the King of England still obstinately refused to acknowledge the independence of Scotland, so King Robert as obstinately refused to give the inhabitants of the threshold of South Britain peace by night or day. At length, in 1319, very weariness led the Scots to set about trying for peace in earnest. On the 21st of December a truce was arranged, and in April of the next year a Parliament met at Arbroath, when a justificatory manifesto was directed to the Pope, in the name of the earls, barons, freeholders, and whole community of the Scots nation, wherein they justified their strife for the sake of their rights, celebrated the valour and hardships of their deliverer and sovereign, but added, that should he wish to subject them to the English, they would expel him as an enemy, and make another their king. 'For,' continued those intrepid hearts, 'so long as a hundred remain alive, we never will in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English ; since not for glory, riches, or honours we fight, but for liberty alone, which no good man loses but with his life.' They expressed their desire to join in the Holy Wars, but proved that whilst their home troubles continued this was impossible, and concluded by deprecating the partiality of the Holy Father, and assuring him that if Re persisted therein 'they should hold him guilty in the sight of the Almighty of the loss of lives, perdition of souls, and all the miserable consequences which might ensue from the continuance of war between the two nations.'
This 'spirited remonstrance' certainly did good at the Papal Court; but again in 1322 a mighty English army entered Scotland, and was only forced to retreat from starvation. In 1324 the Earl of Moray was sent to Avignon to plead his uncle's cause. It was not till January 1328, that an English Parliament met at York, whereat a document was issued to the ' magnificent prince, the lord Robert, by the grace of God, King of Scots,' with a full acknowledgment of his independent sovereignty, and an unreserved renunciation of all pretences of feudal superiority in the Crown of England over the kingdom of Scotland. The treaty was concluded at Edinburgh on the 17th of March, and it was ratified by the English Parliament at Northampton in April, hence it is called the Treaty of Northampton. It was only when in possession of this priceless document that King Robert could say that the work for which he had lived was done: done so far as any work of man can be finished.
Peace was also fully ratified with the Holy See, and Pope John issued a bull, granting to Robert I. and his successors the rite of unction, to be performed by the Bishops of St. Andrews, on their coronation. Robert held at least sixteen Parliaments during his busy reign. He formed a scheme for checking what was to be an after source of vast trouble to the Scottish sovereigns—the power of the nobles. 'He summoned them to appear, and to show by what rights they held their lands. They assembled accordingly, and the question being put, they started up at once, and drew their swords. 'By these,' said they, 'we acquired our lands, and with these we will defend them.' 'The King,' continues the historian, 'prudently dropped the project.'' 'The good K1ng Robert,' as his people loved to call him, spent his two
1 Robertson's Hist, of Scotland, vol. i. p. 49.