Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/290

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[1314 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

broke, who continued guardian of the northern English counties till August, 1315, and was responsible for the defences of the Border. His performance throughout the Scottish war, from the moment that he allowed Bruce to slip through his fingers in Glentrool, and suffered defeat at London Hill, had dimmed the lustre of this celebrated knight's earlier renown. He had been, at all events, almost uniformly unsuccessful.[1]

In February and March, 1316, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, Governor of Berwick, wrote to King Edward to say that his soldiers were actually dying of starvation on the walls. Whenever a horse died, the men-at-arms boiled and ate it, not allowing the foot-soldiers a mouthful till they themselves had eaten all they wanted. He assured the King that the town must be lost unless relief speedily came.[2] On February 14th the garrison mutinied, and a party of Gascons, setting the Governor's orders at defiance, for they vowed it was better to die fighting than to starve, rode on a foray in Tweeddale.

Sir Adam de Gordon, who had joined the Scottish service after Bannockburn, detected them on their return march, driving a lot of cattle before them. He reported the circumstance to Douglas, who took the field at once with Sir William de Soulis, Sir Henry de Balliol, and a small troop of horse, and rode to intercept the raiders at Scaithmoor, in the

  1. Born in 1280, Pembroke at this period was just at his prime as a soldier. Piers Gaveston, with whom he was no favourite, had nicknamed him Joseph the Jew, because of his sallow complexion.
  2. Bain, iii., 89.