Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/326

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Robert the Bruce.

[1319 A.D.-

was its effect on the besiegers of Berwick. The strategy of the King of Scots was justified by its complete success. King Edward could not allow a victorious army to career at will through his dominions. Whether there be truth or not in the allegations of fresh dissensions between Lancaster and le Despenser, the fact that the siege of Berwick was raised on or before September 24th is established by the pay-roll of the army, above referred to, coming to an end on that day, when the bulk of the forces were paid off.

It was now more than thirteen years since Robert de Brus, an excommunicated assassin and proclaimed rebel, had been crowned King of Scots, and then had to fly from the pursuit of the whole armed force of both kingdoms. Now, the whole of Scotland owned him as King; he possessed every inch of its soil; his so-called Overlord had been driven twice across the Border, after bringing all the power at his command, military, diplomatic, and spiritual, to bear on the subjugation of the smaller and weaker country. Beaten, disheartened and distracted by the feuds of his barons, Edward seemed finally brought to his knees, and sent commissioners to treat for peace. The embassage consisted of the Bishop of Ely, the Earl of Pembroke (it must have been a bitter duty for him to discharge!), Hugh le Despenser the younger, and Bartholemew de Badlesmere.[1] To confer with these King Robert appointed five plenipotentiaries—no bishop, perhaps because he was lying under the ban of the Church—Sir William de Soulis, Sir Robert de

  1. Bain, iii., 129.