Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/249

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1314 A.D.]
197
The Battle of Bannockburn.

still darker disaster was approaching—a deeper humiliation for the proud chivalry of England.

Edward de Brus had laid siege to Stirling Castle in Lent, 1313, and it remained closely invested till midsummer. The governor, Sir Philip de Moubray, then obtained from Edward de Brus consent to a suspension of hostilities, on condition that he, Sir Philip, would surrender, if he were not relieved before Midsummer Day, 1314. When King Robert heard of this he was greatly displeased. He knew that if anything would put the chivalry of England on its mettle, and reconcile the barons with their incompetent King, it would be this summons to the rescue of a brother knight—this fixing a distant day for a supreme effort. He ever saw that his best chance lay in avoiding a general action, and in carrying on an irregular and profitable warfare on the Border, while the English Government continued distracted by civil discord. However, the mistake had been made: Edward de Brus's knightly word had been pledged, and the King of Scots was not the man to recoil from the consequences.

Matters turned out exactly as Robert had foreseen. The King of England set about making immense preparations, and, Piers Gaveston having expiated his offences on the scaffold, the barons responded heartily to the summons to arms. The Earl of Lancaster, however, with his adherents Warwick, Warenne, and Arundel, remained at home, being dissatisfied because of Edward's failure to fulfil certain pledges made to them.[1] Writs were

  1. Lanercost, 224.