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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 163



first glancing at his designs against Scot! maintaining it to be divisible. But this land, The line of the descendants of Alexander the Third, the Scotch king, being extinguished by the unexpected demise of the " Maid of Norway," in 1290, the right of succession was disputed by no less than thirteen claimants; and being unable to decide to which of these the crown should be resigned, the States, to avoid the threatened miseries of a civil war, appointed King Edward, then deemed the most upright and mighty of potentates, as their arbitrator. Edward willingly accepted the office; not, however, as an appointment from the States of Scotland, but as a right pertaining to the King of England, as Lord Paramount of Scotland, a right which the Scotch, being then too weak to dispute, wisely waived to a more fitting opportunity, Edward, therefore, summoned the prelates, barons, and commonalty to meet him on the border of the two kingdoms, where, as a preliminary to the proceedings, they swore fealty to him. After this, it was unanimously agreed that he should be assisted in his important office by the advice of a council of eighty Scotch and twenty-four English, liefore this council the several competitors urged their respective claims by written and oral evidence ; but as it was to the interest of the majority to mystify the matter as much as possible, the lengthy pleadings were elaborated with sophisms, fabulous legends, and far-fetched similes. Thus, four months passed away without the council, divided as it wfas by party views and personal interests, coming to any definite decision. Edward, therefore, summoned a parliament of both nations, who received the report of the council, and after an elaborate inquiry, which had lasted eighteen months, and in which the claims of Robert Bruce and John Baliol, the two nearest descendants of Alexander, were thoroughly investigated, a decision was given in the name of the King, by the advice and with the consent of the united parliament of the two nations, in favour of John Baliol ; a decision which so enraged Bruce, that he joined with Lord Hastings, another competitor, for a part of the kingdom, claim was unanimously negatived by the parliaments ; and on the nineteenth of November, 1292, the regency was dissolved, and Baliol took the oath of fealty to Edward, and received possession both of the throne and the fortresses of Scotland. Baliol's eagerness to wear the crown of his native land induced him to accept it as a vassal ; but he soon learned how dearly he must pay for his indiscretion, what petty indignities he must suffer at the hands of Ins liege lord. Before the English King quitted Newcastle, a Scotchman complained to him of insults he had received in the town of Berwick from some Englishmen, when, although Edward had promised that all cases of law occurring in Scotland should be tried in that country, he ordered the cause to be tried in England by his own judges. This produced a remonstrance in the Scotch council, to which Edward replied, " That the promise they accused him of breaking had been made when their throne was vacant ; he had punctually observed it during the regency, but as there was now a King of Scotland, he should admit and hear all complaints concerning that kingdom where and when he pleased." This declaration he repeated four days days afterwards, in his own chamber, before Baliol and several lords of both nations, adding, with great warmth, "H e would call the King of Scotland himself to appear in England whenever he thought proper to do so," a threat he lost no time in putting into execution ; and by encouraging appeals to his authority from that of the Scotch King, whom he repeatedly summoned to London upon matters the most trivial, he at length aroused to anger the quiet temper of Baliol. In fact, he thought to crush the Scotch by tyranny, but in this he was mistaken; his injustice only rekindled their slumbering energies, and prompted them to rid themselves of so troublesome a master. Whilst Edward was thus stretching to the utmost his feudal superiority over his newly-created vassal, the Scotch King, he himself, as Duke of Aquitaine, was doomed to suffer similar humiliation from his superior lord, Philip of France.


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