Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/308

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[1316 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

representing the original so closely, that quotation is at once fairer to him, and probably more effective, than any fresh attempt at paraphrase.

The messengers (precursores) sent by the cardinals were the Bishop of Corbau and the Archdeacon of Perpignan.[1] They waited on the King of Scots about the beginning of September, 1317.

"The King," says Lord Hailes, "graciously received them and heard them with patient attention. After having consulted with his barons, he made answer, that he mightily desired to procure a good and perpetual peace, either by the mediation of the Cardinals, or by any other means. He allowed the open letters from the Pope, which recommended peace, to be read in his presence, and he listened to them with all due respect; but he would not receive the sealed letters addressed to 'Robert Bruce governing in Scotland.' 'Among my barons,' said he, 'there are many of the name of Robert Bruce, who share in the government of Scotland; these letters may possibly be addressed to some one of them; but they are not addressed to me, who am King of Scotland. I can receive no letters which are not addressed to me under that title, unless with the advice and approbation of my parliament. I will forthwith assemble my parliament, and with their advice return my answer.'

"The messengers attempted to apologise for omission of the title of King; they said that Holy Church was not wont, during the dependence of a controversy, to write or say anything which might be interpreted as prejudicial to the claims of either of the contending parties. 'Since, then,' answered the King, 'my spiritual father and my holy mother would not prejudice the cause of my adversary by bestowing on me the appellation of King during the dependence of the controversy, they ought not to have prejudiced my cause by withdrawing that appellation from me. I am in possession of the kingdom of Scotland; all my people call me King, and foreign Princes address me under that title; but it seems that my parents are partial to their English son. Had you presumed to present letters with such an address to any other sovereign Prince
  1. Papal Letters, ii., 429.