Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/328

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[1319 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

London and Carlisle received the papal mandate to publish the sentence of excommunication without further delay, coupled with the injunction that Bruce was on no account to be released from it, until he should be at the point of death.[1] A few months later, on July 20, 1320, the Bishops of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, Aberdeen, and Moray were also excommunicated for contumacy, forasmuch as they, too, had neglected the Pope's summons to Avignon. But in the meantime the Pope had received his answer from the Scottish nation. The laymen in Parliament at Arbroath had drawn up and forwarded their celebrated letter to John XXII.

The preamble of this document recites the mythical origin of the Scots from Scythia and Spain, and claims for Scotland the special favour of the See of Rome, as being under the patronage of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter. Then the practical case for Scotland is set forth in clear and eloquent terms.

"We continued to enjoy peace and liberty, with the protection of the Papal See, until Edward, the late King of England, in the guise of a friend and ally, invaded and oppressed our nation, at that time without a head, unpracticed in war and suspecting no evil. The wrongs which we suffered under the tyranny of Edward are beyond description, and, indeed, they would appear incredible to all but those who actually felt them. He wasted our country, imprisoned our prelates, burnt our religious places, spoiled our ecclesiastics, and slew our people, without discrimination of age, sex, or rank. Through favour of Him who woundeth and maketh whole, we have been freed from so great and innumerable calamities by the valour of our Lord and Sovereign Robert. He, like another Joshua or a Judas Maccabeus, gladly endured toils, distresses, the extremity of want, and every
  1. Papal Letters, ad annum.