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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 192



between England and Scotland, but tbe victorious Bruce would not listen to tbe terms of the treaty, and pursuing- the war with redoubled vigour, reduced Berwick, Wark, Eoroughbridge, Scarborough, and other places, in 1318. These victories so alarmed both Edward and his opponents, that they speedily effected a reconciliation, and tbe barons, without distinction of party, summoned their military retainers, and accompanying the King, invested Berwick with a powerful army. Isabella accompanied Edward in this expedition as far as Brothcrton, in Yorkshire. Here she took up her abode ; but although deemed perfectly safe, the place being nearly a hundred miles from the theatre of war, she narrowly escaped being made prisoner. On Berwick being invested, Bruce endeavoured to raise the siege, but despairing of success, he despatched the daring Earls Bandolf and Douglas, with fifteen thousand men, to surprise the English Queen, and carry her off to Scotland. The scheme was a bold one, and ably planned; but,fortunately for Isabella, one of the Scotch scouts was seized and carried before the Archbishop of York. This man, on being threatened with torture, confessed that his comrades were within a few hours' march of Brotherton. This startling confession was speedily verified by scouts sent in the direction pointed out by him. The alarm was instantly raised ; every man in York that could bear arms was mustered, and marched post baste to the residence of the Queen, who, on being apprised of her danger, permitted them to immediately escort her first to York, and afterwards, for further security, to Nottingham. As both the Scotch and the English were weary of war, a truce for two years was concluded between Edward and Bruce, in January, 1320. This truce was no sooner proclaimed, than a civil war, fiercer than that occasioned by Gaveston, burst forth in England. The Earl of Lancaster, by the advice of the barons, who were ever jealous of those about the King's person, had formerly obtruded on Edward one of his own followers to fill the office of chamberlain. This person, whose name was Hugh le Despenser, commonly called Spencer, was of high birth and distinguished talents, His father, also named Hugh, counselled him to cease serving the barons, and endeavour to win the confidence and favour of the King. This he accordingly did, and he played bis part so well, that in a short time he obtained an ascendancy over Edward as great as that formerly possessed by Gaveston. The royal favours were dispensed through his hands. His pride was excessive, his avarice insatiable, at least so say his enemies, and to increase his unpopularity and awaken the jealousy of his former superiors, the King, by marrying him to his great niece, Eleanora, one of the daughters of tbe late Earl of Gloucester, nut him in possession of the greater portion of Glamorganshire, and thus rendered him one of the most powerful lords of the Welch marches. Hitherto, the brave Mortimers had exercised a sort of supremacy over the Welch borders, but now the favourite Spencer endeavoured to gain the ascendancy in those parts by every possible means. Not satisfied with prevailing on the King to grant to him several castles which had formerly been given to the Mortimers, he, on learning that a baron was about seBing his estate on the Welch border to the Earl of Hereford, which was held of the King in capite, actually obtained the King's license, and bought it out of the Earl of Hereford's hands. These measures so exasperated the lords of the marches, that they raised eleven thousand men, and under the Lords Mortimer, entered the lands of the favourite, reduced his castles, and in the course of a few days, burnt, destroyed, or sacked, nearly all his property on his Welch manors They then formed a confederacy with the Earl of Leicester and the other malcontent barons, and sent a message to Edward, demanding the banishment of the favourite and his father ; a demand which, despite the King's opposition, was complied with by parliament in August, 1321.


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