Page images
PDF
EPUB

to dismiss all his English attendants, who were regarded and hated as spies. With the Parliament's approbation, he concluded a treaty with Philip of France; and, to strengthen the alliance, Baliol's son married the daughter of the Count of Anjou, and the niece of Philip. Both princes bound themselves to assist each other, if attacked by the English, and not to conclude a separate peace, a nugatory obligation, always required and always disregarded.

A.D. In consequence of this treaty, the Scots, with a mighty 1296. S force, invaded Cumberland, and wasted the country. They assaulted Carlisle; but were repulsed by the bravery of the women; who flew to the walls to assist in the defence, after the town was in flames. Nor were they more successful in a second inroad into England. Though they burnt the nunnery of Lamelay and the monastery of Corebridge, dedicated to St Andrew, they were repulsed at Harbottle, and retired in disorder.

Meanwhile, Edward, with a numerous and well-disciplined army, hastened to chastise his rebellious vassals. The Scottish Parlia ment, placing little reliance on the vigour and abilities of their prince, assigned him a council of twelve noblemen; in whose hands the sovereignty was really lodged. An army of forty thousand foot and five hundred horse marched to the Borders, to de fend the provinces that Edward was preparing to attack. Robert Bruce and his son, the Earls of March and Angus, prognosticat ing the ruin of their country, endeavoured, by an early submission, to conciliate the favour of Edward,

The Scots had the precaution to throw a strong garrison into Berwick. Edward assaulted it by sea and land. His fleet was burnt or disabled; but his army took and sacked the town, put the garrison to the sword, and indiscriminately butchered the inhabitants without distinction of age or sex, Sir William Douglas, the commander of the castle, with about two hundred men only, escaped the carnage. They were permitted to retire with mili tary honours, after having made oath never to bear arms against England. Before the loss of Berwick, Baliol had, by the advice of his Parliament, renounced the allegiance and fealty which he had sworn to Edward. This renunciation was communicated to Edward after the capture of Berwick, and was most favourable to his political views. He received the instrument with contempt rather than with anger. "The foolish traitor," said he to Ba

liol's messenger, him."

"since he will not come to us, we will go to

The fate of Baliol and his kingdom was soon decided. Edward despatched Earl Warenne with a chosen body of troops to recover the castle of Dunbar, which had been betrayed to the Scots by the lady of the Earl of March. While the English pressed the siege, the garrison agreed to surrender, unless relieved within three days. On the third day, the whole forces of Scotland appeared in order of battle on the heights above Dunbar. Warenne marched against them. The impatient Scots abandoned the advantage of the ground, and poured down tumultuously on the foe; but they were broken and dispersed. Twenty thousand of the fugitives were slain or captured.

On the day after the battle, Edward arrived with the remainder of his troops; when Richard Siward, the governor of the castle, surrendered at discretion. The victor let loose a detachment of Irish and Welsh troops to pursue and massacre the fugitives into the recesses of their country. The castles of Roxburgh, Edinburgh, and Stirling, were successively surrendered to the English.

The unfortunate and pusillanimous Baliol implored the mercy of his enemy. Divested of his royal ornaments, and bearing a white rod in his hand, he performed a most humiliating feudal penance. He confessed his various transgressions; acknowledged the justice of the English invasion and conquest; and declared, that, of his own free consent, he resigned Scotland, his people, and their homage, to his liege lord Edward. This disgraceful transaction took place in the Churchyard of Montrose.

Thus ended the short and disastrous reign of John Baliol. He accepted the kingdom from Edward on dishonourable terms. His efforts to assert the national independence were unsuccessful, because the enterprise was beyond his strength; and his French allies beheld his ruin with the utmost indifference.

CHAPTER II.

Interregnum. Policy of Edward. State of Scotland. Sir William Wallace -his first exploits-defeats the English at Stirling-is appointed governor of the kingdom. English invade Scotland. Battle of Falkirk. A regency. English defeated at Roslin. Edward penetrates into the North of Scotland. Obstinate defence of Brechin Castle. Scotland subdued. Fate of Wallace.

A. D. AN INTERREGNUM.-After the abdication of Baliol, Ed1296. ward proceeded northward as far as Elgin. The Scottish nobles and many of the clergy hastened to pacify his resentment, by swearing fealty and abjuring the French alliance. Having brought the kingdom to a state of apparent subjection, he returned home, carrying with him the fatal stone, which was conveyed to Westminster. He gave orders to destroy the records and monuments which might preserve the memory of the independence of Scotland. The great seal of Baliol was broken, and he was committed to the Tower; but, in two years after, he was restored to liberty, and retired to France; where he died.

The first acts of Edward's administration were apparently moderate and politic. He held a parliament at Berwick, and received the formal submission of the clergy and laity of Scotland. Robert Bruce, the younger Earl of Carrick, concurred in this disgraceful submission. In return, he ordered the estates of the clergy to be restored; he granted possession of their jointure lands to the widows of many Scottish barons; and he even made a decent provision for the wives of many of his prisoners. Few of those who had held offices under Baliol were displaced; and he in general suffered the numerous jurisdictions throughout Scotland to remain with their ancient possessors. To conciliate the favour of the Scottish bishops, he granted them for ever the privilege of bequeathing their effects by will. The government of the Southern districts and castles was judiciously committed to the fidelity and vigilance of Englishmen.

Edward was less happy in the choice of his ministers for Scotland. Warenne, Earl of Surrey, having returned to England on account of ill health, the administration devolved upon Cressingham the Treasurer,-who was a voluptuous ecclesiastic, proud, ignorant, and opinionative; and on Ormesby the Justiciary,-who was universally detested for his rigour and severity. The internal police

of the country was disorganized; the highways were infested by robbers; contempt of government everywhere prevailed; and Edward, engrossed with other objects of ambition, neglected the vigilance and liberality, the courage and moderation, which the exigency of affairs required.

At this crisis arose the renowned Sir William Wallace; who was descended from an ancient family in Renfrewshire, and to whom the fond admiration of his countrymen has ascribed many fabulous acts of prowess, though his valour, sagacity, and integrity, were such as required not the embellishments of fiction. He had been outlawed for some offence; and having fled into the woods, offered himself as a leader to a few companions, whose desperate fortune or hatred of the English government had reduced to a like necessity.

He was admirably adapted to the times in which he lived, and eminently qualified for the services he had to perform. In him were combined every popular excellence,-gigantic strength, heroic courage, incredible patience under the severest privations, a singular ability to endure hunger, fatigue, and the inclemencies of the seasons. He was magnanimous and affable; and thereby conciliated the affections of his followers. By the force of his natural eloquence, he moulded their passions to his will: By calm, intrepid, and persevering wisdom, he maintained an ascendancy over the fierce and undisciplined multitudes that resorted to his standard.

A.D.

},

With a resolute band, he infested the English quarters. 1297. § His success in these predatory expeditions attracted multitudes to his standard, who thirsted for revenge, to be his companions in arms. Of this number was Sir William Douglas. With their united forces, they attempted to surprise the English Justi ciary at Scone. The Viceroy hastily fled to England; and he was followed by all the officers of state. Imboldened by their suc cess, the Scots roved over the country, assailed castles, surprised, routed, and put to the sword the unwary English who came with in their power. Many persons of rank openly countenanced or declared for their cause. Robert Bruce the younger, after some hesitation, joined the Scottish army.

Warenne the Viceroy despatched a chosen and numerous body of troops against the enemy, who were strongly posted near Irvine, formidable in numbers but enfeebled by fatal dissentions.

The Scottish leaders were untractable and independent; they would neither fight, retire, nor treat by common consent. The more prudent saved themselves by humble submissions to Edward.

Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell was the only baron who adhered to Wallace: They retired indignantly towards the North with their companions in arms. The English meantime advanced towards Stirling. Wallace hastened to guard the important passage of the Forth, and encamped behind a rising ground near the abbey of Cambuskenneth. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of Sir Richard Lundy, the English general ordered his troops to cross the Forth by a wooden bridge. Scarcely had a division passed over, when Wallace rushed down and attacked them in a moment, routed, and pushed them into the river. Many thousands were slain or drowned, among whom was the wretched Cressingham. The conquerors had to bewail the loss of Sir Andrew Moray, who received a mortal wound. A panic seized the English who had been spectators of the rout; they burned the bridge, abandoned their baggage, and fled to Berwick.

Scotland was once more free. The castles which the English had retained were immediately surrendered.

A great famine arose in Scotland, the consequence of bad seasons and of the neglect of cultivation. With the view of procuring sustenance to his followers, Wallace marched his whole army into the North of England. The wide tract of country from Carlisle to Newcastle was wasted with all the fury of revenge, licence, and rapacity.

Revered as the deliverer of his country, Wallace was invested by his followers with the title of Governor of Scotland, in name of King John. His talents and merit unquestionably entitled him to that high dignity; but from that period the spirit of jealousy and distrust inflamed the passions of the Scottish nobles: His elevation wounded their pride, and his meritorious services. reproached their inactivity in the public cause. Such was the distracted state of the national councils, at a time when the independence of Scotland depended on its unanimity.

A.D. During these important transactions, Edward was in 1298. Flanders. Upon his return to England, he summoned the Scottish barons to a Parliament at York, under pain of rebellion. The Scots disobeyed; and the incensed monarch advanced to the Borders to punish their insolence. A body of English, command

« PreviousContinue »