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The tales of a grandfather : being the history of Scotland from the earliest period to the close of the rebellion, 1745-46 (Volume 1) online

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of Fife, he had uttered some threats which occasioned that chief to fly
from the Court of Scotland. Urged by this new counsellor, Siward, the
Danish Earl of Northumberland, invaded Scotland in the year 1054, dis-
playing his banner in behalf of the banished Malcolm. Macbeth engaged
the foe in the neighbourhood of his celebrated castle of Dunsinane. He was
defeated, but escaped from the battle, and was slain at Lumphanan in 1056.
"Very slight observation will enable us to recollect how much this
simple statement differs from that of the drama, though the plot of the
latter is consistent enough with the inaccurate historians from whom
Shakspeare drew his materials. It might be added, that early authorities
show us no such persons as Banquo and his son Fleance, nor have we
reason to think that the latter ever fled farther from Macbeth than across
the flat scene, according to the stage direction. Neither were Banquo or
his son ancestors of the house of Stewart. All these things are now
known : but the mind retains pertinaciously the impression made by the
impositions of genius. While the works of Shakspeare are read, and the
English language subsists, History may say what she will, but the general
reader will only recollect Macbeth as a sacrilegious usurper, and Richard
as a deformed murtherer.'' LARDNER'S Cyclcpcedia.
I 2


or province, called Neustria, the name of which was changed
to Normandy, when it became the property of these Northmen,
or Normans. This province was governed by the Norman
chief, who was called a duke, from a Latin word signifying
a general. He exercised all the powers of a king within his
dominions of Normandy, but, in consideration of his being pos-
sessed of a part of the territories of France, he acknowledged
the king of that country for his sovereign, and became what was
called his vassal.

This connection of a king as sovereign, with his princes and
great men as vassals, must be attended to and understood, in
order that you may comprehend the history which follows. A
great king, or sovereign prince, gave large provinces, or grants
of land, to his dukes, earls, and noblemen ; and each of these
possessed nearly as much power, within his own district, as the
king did in the rest of his dominions. But then the vassal,
whether duke, earl, or lord, or whatever he was, was obliged to
come with a certain number of men to assist the sovereign,
when he was engaged in war ; and in time of peace, he was
bound to attend on his court when summoned, and do homage
to him that is, acknowledge that he was his master and liege
lord. In like manner, the vassals of the crown, as they were
called, divided the lands which the king had given them into
estates, which they bestowed on knights and gentlemen, whom
they thought fitted to follow them in war, and to attend them
in peace ; for they, too, held courts, and administered justice,
each in his own province. Then the knights and gentlemen,
who had these estates from the great nobles, distributed the pro-
perty among an inferior class of proprietors, some of whom cul-
tivated the laud themselves, and others by means of husband-
men and peasants, who were treated as a sort of slaves, being
bought and sold like brute beasts, along with the farms which
they laboured.

Thus, when a great king, like that of France or England,
went to war, he summoned all his crown vassals to attend him,
with the number of armed men corresponding to his fief, as it
was called ; that is, the territory which had been granted to
each of them. The prince, duke, or earl, in order to obey the
summons, called upon all the gentlemen to whom he had given
estates, to attend his standard with their followers in arms.
The gentlemen, in their turn, called on the franklins, a lower


order of gentry, aiid upon the peasants ; and thua the whole
force of the kingdom was assembled in one array. This system
of holding lands for military service, that is, for fighting for
the sovereign when called upon, was called the FEUDAL SYSTEM.
It was general throughout all Europe for a great many ages.

But as many of these great crown vassals, as, for example,
the Dukes of Normandy, became extremely powerful, they were
in the custom of making peace and war at their own hand,
without the knowledge or consent of the King of France, their
sovereign. In the same manner, the vassals of those great
dukes and princes frequently made war on each other, for war
was the business of every one ; while the poor bondsman, who
cultivated the ground, was subjected to the greatest hardships,
and plundered and ill-treated by whichever side had the better.
The nobles and gentlemen fought on horseback, arrayed in
armour of steel, richly ornamented with gold and silver, and
were called knights or squires. They used long lances, with
which they rode fiercely against each other, and heavy swords,
or clubs or maces, to fight hand to hand, when the lance was
broken. Inferior persons fought on foot, and were armed with
bows and arrows, which, according to their form, were called
long-bows, or cross-bows, and served to kill men at a distance,
instead of guns and cannon, which were not then invented.
The poor husbandmen were obliged to come to the field of
battle with such arms as they had : and it was no uncommon
thing to see a few of these knights and squires ride over and
put to flight many hundreds of them; for the gentry were
clothed in complete armour, so that they could receive little
hurt, and the poor peasants had scarce clothes sufficient to
cover them. You may see coats of the ancient armour pre-
served in the Tower of London and elsewhere, as matters of

It was not a very happy time this, when there was scarcely
any law, but the strong took everything from the weak at their
pleasure ; for as almost all the inhabitants of the country were
obliged to be soldiers, it naturally followed that they were en-
gaged in continual fighting.

The great crown-vassals, in particular, made constant war
upon one another, and sometimes upon the sovereign himself,
though to do so was to incur the forfeiture of their fiefs, or the
territories which he had bestowed upon them, and which he


was enabled by law to recall when they became his enemies
But they took the opportunity, when they were tolerably cer-
tain that their prince would not have strength sufficient to
punish them. In short, no one could maintain his right longer
than he had the power of defending it ; and this induced the
more poor and helpless to throw themselves under the protec-
tion of the brave and powerful acknowledge themselves their
vassals and subjects, and do homage to them, in order that
they might obtain their safeguard and patronage.

While things were in this state, William, the Duke of Nor-
mandy, and the leader of that valiant people whose ancestors
had conquered that province, began, upon the death of good
King Edward the Confessor, to consider the time as favourable
for an attempt to conquer the wealthy kingdom of England.
He pretended King Edward had named him his heir ; but his
surest reliance was upon a strong army of his brave Normans,
to whom were joined many knights and squires from distant
countries, who hoped, by assisting this Duke William in his
proposed conquest, to obtain from him good English estates,
under the regulations which I have described.

The Duke of Normandy landed [on the 28th of September^
at Pevensey] in Sussex, in the year one thousand and sixty-
six after the birth of our blessed Saviour. He had an army
of sixty thousand chosen men, for accomplishing his bold en-
terprise. Harold, who had succeeded Edward the Confessor
on the throne of England, had been just engaged in repelling
an attack upon England by the Norwegians, and was now called
upon to oppose this new and more formidable invasion. He
was, therefore, taken at considerable disadvantage.

The armies of England and Normandy engaged in a desper-
ate battle near Hastings, and the victory was long obstinately
contested. The Normans had a great advantage, from having
amongst them large bands of archers, who used the long-bow,
and greatly annoyed the English, who had but few bow-men to
oppose them, and only short darts called javelins, which they
threw from their hands, and which could do little hurt at a
distance. Yet the victory remained doubtful, though the battle
had lasted from nine in the morning until the close of the day,
when an arrow pierced through King Harold's head, and he fell
dead on the spot. 1 The English then retreated from the field,
1 The battle of Hastings was fought 14th October 1066.


and Duke William used his advantage with so much skill and
dexterity, that he made himself master of all England, and
reigned there under the title of William the Conqueror. He
divided great part of the rich country of England among his
Norman followers, who held their estates of him for military
service, according to the rules of the Feudal System, of which I
gave you some account. The Anglo-Saxons, you may well
suppose, were angry at this, and attempted several times to rise
against King William, and drive him and his soldiers back to
Normandy. But they were always defeated; and so King
William became more severe towards these Anglo-Saxons, and
took away their lands, and their high rank and appointments,
until he left scarce any of them in possession of great estates, or
offices of rank, but put his Normans above them, as masters,
in every situation.

Thus the Saxons who had conquered the British, as you
have before read, were in their turn conquered by the Normans,
deprived of their property, and reduced to be the servants of
those proud foreigners. To this day, though several of the
ancient nobility of England claim to be descended from the
Normans, there is scarcely a nobleman, and very few of the
gentry, who can show that they are descended of the Saxon
blood ; William the Conqueror took so much care to deprive
the conquered people of all power and importance.

It must have been a sad state of matters in England, when
the Normans were turning the Saxons out of their estates and
habitations, and degrading them from being freemen into slaves.
But good came out of it in the end ; for these Normans were
not only one of the bravest people that ever lived, but they
were possessed of more learning and skill in the arts than the
Saxons. They brought with them the art of building large and
beautiful castles and churches composed of stone, whereas the
Saxons had only miserable houses made of wood. The Nor-
mans introduced the use of the long-bow also, which became so
general, that the English were afterwards accounted the best
archers in the world, and gained many battles by their superi-
ority in that military art. Besides these advantages, the,
Normans lived in a more civilised manner than the Saxons,
and observed among each other the rules of civility and good-
breeding, of which the Saxons were ignorant. The Norman
barons were also great friends to national liberty, and would


not allow their kings to do anything contrary to their privi-
leges, but resisted them whenever they attempted anything
beyond the power which was given to them by law. Schools
were set up in various places by the Norman princes, and
learning was encouraged. Large towns were founded in dif-
ferent places of the kingdom, and received favour from the Nor-
man kings, who desired to have the assistance of the townsmen
in case of any dispute with their nobility.

Thus the Norman Conquest, though a most unhappy and
disastrous event at the time it took place, rendered England,
in the end, a more wise, more civilised, and more powerful
country than it had been before ; and you will find many such
cases in history, my dear child, in which it has pleased the pro-
vidence of God to bring great good out of what seems, at first
sight, to be unmixed evil.


Reign of Malcolm Canmore of David I. Battle of the Standard
Origin of the Claim by England of Supremacy over Scotland Malcolm
IV. Origin of Armorial Bearings William tht Lion

CONTEMPORARY SOVEREIGNS. England: Harold, William the
Conqueror, William Rufus, Henry I., Stephen, Henry II., Richard I.
France: Henry I., Philip I., Louis VI., Louis VII., Philip II.

1057 1189

THE last chapter may seem to have little to do with Scottish
history, yet the Norman Conquest of England produced a great
effect upon their neighbours. In the first place, a very great
number of the Saxons who fled from the cruelty of William the
Conqueror, retired into Scotland, and this had a considerable
effect in civilising the southern parts of that country ; for if
the Saxons were inferior to the Normans in arts and in learn-
ing, they were, on the other hand, much superior to the Scots
who were a rude and very ignorant people.

These exiles were headed and accompanied by what remained
of the Saxon royal family, and particularly by a young prince

1057- 1093 MALCOLM CANMORE 23

named Edgar Etheling, who was a near kinsman of Edward the
Confessor, and the heir of his throne, but dispossessed by the
Norman Conqueror.

This prince brought with him to Scotland two sisters, named
Margaret and Christian. They were received with much kind-
ness by Malcolm III., called Canmore (or Great Head), who
remembered the assistance which he had received from Edward
the Confessor, and felt himself obliged to behave generously
towards his family in their misfortunes. He himself married
the Princess Margaret [1068], and made her the Queen of
Scotland. She was an excellent woman, and of such a gentle,
amiable disposition, that she often prevailed upon her husband,
who was a fierce, passionate man, to lay aside his resentment,
and forgive those who had offended him.

When Malcolm, King of Scotland, was thus connected with
the Saxon royal family of England, he began to think of chasing
away the Normans, and of restoring Edgar Etheling to the
English throne. This was an enterprise for which he had not
sufficient strength ; but he made deep and bloody inroads into
the northern parts of England, and brought away so many cap-
tives, that they were to be found for many years afterwards in
every Scottish village, nay, in every Scottish hovel. No doubt,
the number of the Saxons thus introduced into Scotland tended
much to improve and civilise the manners of the people ; for,
as I have already said, the Scots were inferior to the Saxons in
all branches- of useful knowledge.

Not only the Saxons, but afterwards a number of the Nor-
mans themselves, came to settle in Scotland. King "William
could not satisfy the whole of them, and some, who were dis-
contented, and thought they could mend their fortunes, repaired
to the Scottish court, and were welcomed by King Malcolm. 1
He was desirous to retain these brave men in his service, and

1 "During this reign a great change was introduced into the manners
of Scotland. Malcolm had passed his youth at the English court ; he
married an Anglo-Saxon princess ; he afforded an asylum in his domin-
ions to many English and Norman malecontents. The king appeared
in public with a state and retinue unknown in more rude and simple times,
and affected to give frequent and sumptuous entertainments to his nobles.
The natives of Scotland, tenacious of their ancient customs, viewed with dis-
gust the introduction of foreign manners, and secretly censured the favour
shown to the English and Norman adventurers, as proceeding from injuri-
ous partiality." HAILBS'S Annals of Scotland.


for that purpose he gave them great grants of land, to be held
for military services ; and most of the Scottish nobility are of
Norman descent. And thus the Feudal System was introduced
into Scotland as well as England, and went on gradually gaining
strength, till it became the general law of the country, as indeed
it was that of Europe at large.

Malcolm Canmore, thus increasing in power, and obtaining
reinforcements of warlike and civilised subjects, began greatly
to enlarge his dominions. At first he had resided almost entirely
in the province of Fife, and at the town of Duiifermline, where
there are still the ruins of a small tower which served him for
a palace. But as he found his power increase, he ventured
across the Firth of Forth, and took possession of Edinburgh and
the surrounding country, which had hitherto been accounted
part of England. The great strength of the castle of Edinburgh,
situated upon a lofty rock, led him to choose that town fre-
quently for his residence, so that in time it became the metro-
polis, or chief city of Scotland.

This King Malcolm was a brave and wise prince, though
without education. 1 He often made war upon King William
the Conqueror of England, and upon his son and successor
William, who, from his complexion, was called William Eufus,
that is, Red William. Malcolm was sometimes beaten in these
wars, but he was more frequently successful ; and not only
made a complete conquest of Lothian, but threatened also to
possess himself of the great English province of Northumberland,
which he frequently invaded. In Cumberland, also, he held
many possessions. But in the year 1093, having assembled a
large army for the purpose, Malcolm besieged the Border fort-

1 " In the introduction o! the Saxon language into his kingdom," it
has been said, " Malcolm himself was a considerable agent. As fre-
quently happens, he caught the flame of religion from the pure torch of
conjugal affection. His love of his consort led him to engage in the devo-
tional services which afterwards procured for her the title of a saint.
Totally illiterate, the King was unable to peruse his wife's missals and
prayer-books ; but he had them gorgeously bound, and frequently, by
kissing them, expressed his veneration for what he could not understand.
When the Queen undertook to correct some alleged abuses of the church,
Malcolm stood interpreter betwixt the fair and royal reformer and such of
the Scottish clergy as did not understand English, which Malcolm loved
because it was the native tongue of Margaret. Such pictures occurring in
history delight by their beauty and simplicity." Miscellaneous Pros:

1093-1124 MALCOLM CANMORE 25

ress of Alnwick, where he was unexpectedly attacked by a great
Norman baron, called Robert de Moubray, who defeated the
Scottish army completely. Malcolm Canmore was killed in
the action, and his eldest son fell by his side.

There is a silly story told of Malcolm being killed by one of
the garrison of Alnwick, who, pretending to surrender the keys
of the castle on the point of a spear, thrust the lance-point into
the eye of the King of Scotland, and so killed him. They pre-
tend that this soldier took the name of Pierce-eye, and that the
great family of the Percies of Northumberland were descended
from him. But this is all a fable. The Percies are descended
from a great Norman baron, who came over with William, and
who took his name from his castle and estate in Normandy.

Queen Margaret of Scotland was extremely ill at the time
her husband marched against England. When she was lying
on her death-bed, she saw her second son, who had escaped
from the fatal battle, approach her bed. " How fares it," said
the expiring Queen, " with your father, and with your brother
Edward?" The young man stood silent. "I conjure you,"
she added, " by the Holy Cross, and by the duty you owe me,
to tell me the truth."

"Your husband and your son are both slain."

" The will of God be done ! " answered the Queen, and ex-
pired, with expressions of devout resignation to the pleasure
of Heaven. This good princess was esteemed a saint by those
of the period in which she lived, and was called Saint Mar-

After the death of Malcolm Canmore, the Scottish crown
was occupied successively by three princes of little power
or talent, who seized on the supreme authority because the
children of the deceased sovereign were under age. After these
had ended their short reigns, the sons of Malcolm came to
the throne in succession, by name Edgar ; Alexander, called the
First ; and David, also called the First of that name. These
two last princes were men of great ability. David, in particu-
lar, was a wise, religious, and powerful prince. He had many
furious wars with England, and made dreadful incursions into
the neighbouring provinces, which were the more easy that the
country of England was then disunited by civil war. The cause
was this :

Henry I., the youngest son of William the Conqueror, had


died, leaving only one child, a daughter, named Matilda, or
Maud, whose mother was a daughter of Malcolm Canmore,
and a sister, consequently, of David, King of Scotland. Dur-
ing Henry's life, all the English barons had agreed that his
daughter should succeed him in the throne. Upon the King's
death [1135], however, Stephen, Earl of Montague, a great
Norman lord, usurped the government, to the exclusion of the
Empress Matilda (so called because she had married the Em-
peror of Germany), and caused himself to be proclaimed king.
Many of the English barons took arms against Stephen, with
the purpose of doing justice to the Empress Maud, and her son
Henry. It was natural that David, King of Scotland, should
join the party which favoured his niece. But he also took the
opportunity to attempt an extension of his own dominions.

He assembled from the different provinces of Scotland a
large but ill- disciplined army, consisting of troops of different
nations and languages, who had only one common principle
the love of plunder. There were Normans, and Germans, and
English ; there were the Danes of Northumberland, and the
British of Cumberland, and of the valley of Clyde ; there were
the men of Teviotdale, who were chiefly Britons, and those of
Lothian, who were Saxons ; and there were also the people of
Galloway. These last were almost a separate and independent
people, of peculiarly wild and ferocious habits. Some histori-
ans say they came of the race of the ancient Picts ; some call
them the wild Scots of Galloway ; all agree that they were a
fierce, ungovernable race of men, who fought half naked, and
committed great cruelty upon the inhabitants of the invaded
country. These men of Galloway were commanded by several
chiefs. Amongst others, was a chief leader called William
MacDonochy, that is, William the sou of Duncan.

The barons of the northern parts of England, hearing that
the King of Scotland was advancing at the head of this formid-
able army, resolved to assemble their forces to give him battle.
Thurstan, the Archbishop of York, joined with them. They
hoisted a banner, which they called that of Saint Peter, upon
a carriage mounted on wheels l from which circumstance the

1 "It was the mast of a ship, fitted into the perch of a high four-
wheeled carriage ; from it were displayed the banners of St. Peter of York,
of St. John of Beverly, and of St. Wilfred of Rippon. On the top of this
mast there was a little casket, containing a consecrated host." HAILKS.


war took the name of the Battle of the Standard. The two
armies came in sight of each other at Cuton Moor, near
Northallerton, and prepared to fight on the next morning. It
was a contest of great importance ; for if David should prove
able to defeat the army now opposed to him, there seemed
little to prevent him from conquering England as far as the

There was in the English army an aged baron named Kobert
Bruce, father of a race afterwards very famous in Scottish history.
He had great estates both in England and Scotland. He loved
King David, because he had been formerly his companion in
arms, and he resolved to make an effort to preserve peace.

He went, therefore, to the Scottish camp, and endeavoured
to persuade King David to retreat, and to make peace re-
monstrated with him on the excesses which his army had
committed exaggerated the danger in which he was placed ;
and finally burst into tears when he declared his own purpose
of relinquishing his allegiance to the King of Scotland, and
fighting against him in battle, if he persevered in his invasion.
The King shed tears at this exhortation; but William Mac-
Donochy exclaimed, "Bruce, thou art a false traitor!" Bruce,
incensed at this insult, left the camp of the Scots, renouncing
for ever all obedience to David, and giving up the lands he held

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe tales of a grandfather : being the history of Scotland from the earliest period to the close of the rebellion, 1745-46 (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 59)