Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/331

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1322 A.D.]
275
Invasion and Counter-Invasion.

object of setting William de Soulis on the throne of Scotland, probably on condition of his acknowledging the suzerainty of the King of England.[1]

A good deal of mystery still hangs over this plot and the means of its timely exposure. Fordun, whose notes on this subject are fuller than on most others of the time, says the conspiracy was betrayed to the King by the Countess of Strathearn. Barbour states that it was revealed by a lady—"as I herd say"—but mentions no name. Sir Thomas Gray, however, names Muryoch (Murdoch) de Menteith as the informer. Now this Murdoch was in the service of England from 1311[2] till 1317[3]; he may have been employed as an agent of King Edward to negociate with the malcontent Scottish barons, and have betrayed them all to King Robert. He certainly entered the Scottish service, and remained in it till his death at Dupplin in 1332, or at Halidon Hill in 1333. Be all this as it may, the result of the trial before the Scone Parliament spread such a horror through all the land, that it was known thereafter as the Black Parliament.

De Soulis, who when arrested at Berwick had a retinue of 360 squires clad in his liveries, "outane[4] knichtis that war joly," was condemned to imprisonment for life in Dunbarton Castle. A similar sentence was passed on the Countess of Strathearn,

  1. William was grandson of Nicolas de Soulis, one of the Competitors in 1292.
  2. Bain, iii., 39.
  3. Ibid., 103.
  4. Besides.