Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/139

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1305 A.D.]
105
The Death of Wallace.

near Lochmaben, where the English had a strong garrison. Robert de Felton, the constable, wrote to the King in October, 1299, informing him that Caerlaverock was the occasion of great mischief to his garrison and people, but that he (Felton) had scored a success lately against the enemy, and that at the moment of writing the head of the Constable of Caerlaverock adorned the great tower of Lochmaben. He added that the people of Scotland had been made aware of the new alliance between England and France, and were greatly discouraged thereby. He implored the King to turn his face towards Scotland, and his enemies would disperse.

Edward was not slow to act on the invitation. Early in 1300 he ordered large supplies to be collected in England and Ireland, and forwarded to Berwick and Skinburness. Sixteen thousand foot were summoned to muster at Carlisle, where the King, the young Prince of Wales, and the barons joined the army on June 24th. The splendour and perfect equipment of this host have been minutely described by a poet who accompanied the Court.[1] This period was the very noontide of chivalry, and the bard has enthusiastically set forth the names, arms, and personal qualities of all the knights. Heraldry was at that time more than merely ornamental; the various arms served to indicate with precision

  1. The Roll of Caerlaverock, written in Norman French, is preserved in the British Museum. Sir Harris Nicolas, who first edited it for publication in 1828, attributed it to Walter of Exeter, a monk. But there seems no reason to ascribe the poem to him rather than to anyone else.