Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/140

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[1299 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

the different knights in the field just as in modern armies different corps are distinguished by their uniforms. The chivalrous science had not been degraded, as it subsequently came to be, to minister to the genealogical pride of great seigneurs. The charges on the shields were kept distinct and brilliantly coloured, so that they might be recognised easily on parade and in battle.

Early in July, King Edward advanced from Carlisle to lay siege to Maxwell's castle of Caerlaverock with 3000 men. "The blaze of gold and silver," says the poet, "and the radiance of rich colours, displayed by the embattled host, illuminated the valley which they occupied.... Those of the castle, seeing us arrive, might, as I well believe, deem that they were in greater peril than they could remember ever before.... The English knights were habited, not in coats and surcoats, but were mounted on costly and powerful chargers and were well and securely armed against surprise. There were many rich caparisons embroidered on silks and satins: many a beautiful pennon fixed to the lances and many a banner displayed.... The days were long and fine: they proceeded by easy journeys, arranged in four squadrons."

To resist this imposing array Caerlaverock contained but sixty men in garrison; but they made a gallant defence. The castle was invested on July 10th, and the English at once went forward to the assault. The defenders kept up such a constant volley of great stones upon the escalading parties that the gay coats of many English knights were