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Bruce
Bruce
125

to follow the rules of inferior fiefs, but that the male nearest in descent in the direct line, whom failing the female in the same line, whom failing the nearest male collateral, should succeed, an order sufficiently conformable to the imperial, that is the Roman law.

In this parliament Bruce established his title to be deemed as wise and ‘practical a legislator as he had proved himsel a general. he most important acts related to the national defence and the administration of justice. Every layman worth ten pounds was to be bound to provide himself with armour, and every one who had the value of a cow with a spear or bow and twenty-four arrows. A yearly weapon schaw was to be held by the sheriffs every Easter. While provision was thus made for the equipment and training of an armed nation, the excesses attendant on such a condition were restrained by a law that if any crime was committed by those coming to the army, they were to he tried before the justiciar. Stringent acts forbade the export of goods during War, or of arms at any time. As regards justice the usual proclamation was made with emphasis: ‘The king wills and commands that common law and right be done to puir and riche after the auld lawes and freedomes.’ The privilege of repledging, by which a person was removed from the jurisdiction of the king's officers, was restricted by the provision that it was to apply only when the accused was the liegeman of the lord or held land of him, or was in his service or of his kin, and if this was doubtful, a verdict of average was to decide. A new law was maide against leasing making, a quaint Scotch term for treasonable language. ‘The kynghes' statute and defendyt that none be conspirators nor fynders of taylis or of tidingis thruch the quhilkis mater of discord may spryng betwixt the kyng and his pepull,' under penalty of imprisonment at the king‘s will. A hortatory statute recommended the people to nourish love and friendship with each other, forbade the nobles to do injury to any of the people, and promised redress to any one injured. This was aimed at the oppressions of the feudal lords, and exhibits the side of Bruce's character which gained him the name of the good king Robert in the commons. With regard to the civil law, the feudal actions commenced by the brieves of novel disseisin and mort d'ancester, as well as the procedure in actions of debt and damage, were carefully related. The unreasonable delays (essoigns) which impeded justice were no longer to be allowed. No defender was to be called on to lead until the complainer had fully stated) his case. Bruce, like Cromwell, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon, was a law-reformer. The man of action cannot tolerate the abuses by which law ceases to be justice.

A statute identical with the ‘Quia Emptores’ of 17 Edward I is ascribed to Bruce in the Harleian and other later manuscri ts, and is included in the ‘Statuta Secunda Roberti Primi,’ by Sir J. Skene. But while transcripts of English law were not unknown in Scotland, they are little likely to have been made by Bruce, and this statute, which by preventing subinfeudation woidd have completely altered the whole system of Scottish and rights, is certainly spurious. In 1319 Edward tried to cut off the trade of Scotland with Flanders, but the count and the towns of Bruges and Ypres rejected his overtures. A vigorous edort to recover Berwick was repelled by Walter Stewart, its governor, aided by the skill of Crab, a Flemish engineer, and Douglas and Randolph invaded England, when the Archhishop of York was defeated in the engagement called the Chapter of Mytton, from the number of clergy slain. This diversion and the lukewarmness, if not absolute abstention, of the Earl of Lancaster and the northern barons, led to the raising of the siege. When Bruce visited Berwick he complimented his son-in-law on the success of his defence, and raised the walls ten feet all round. The pope somewhat tardily excommunicated Bruce and his adherents for his contumacy, but the English king felt unable to continue the war, and on 21 Dec. a truce was concluded for two years.

On 6 April 1320 a Scottish parliament at Arbroath addressed a letter to the pope asserting thc independence of their country and promising aid in a crusade if the pope recognised that independence. Part of this manifesto which relates to Bruce deserves to be quoted. After referring to the tyranny of Edward I, it proceeds: ‘Through His favour who woundeth and maketh whole we have been preserved from so great and numberless calamities by the valour of our lord and sovereign Robert. He, like another Joshua or Judas Maccabeus, gladly endured trials, distresses, the extremities of want, and every peril to rescue his people and inheritance out of the hands of the enemy. The divine providence, that legal succession which we will constantly maintain, and our due and_unanimous consent have made him our chief and king. To him in defence of our liberty we are bound to adhere, as well of right as by reason of his deserts . . . for through him salvation has been wrongiit to our people. . . . While there exist a hundred of us we will never submit to England. We fight not for glory, wealth, or honour, but for that