Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/336

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280
[1319 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

February 7th, did not come into his hands till the 17th. Those ten days probably decided the fate of the English monarchy. Had Moray and Douglas united their forces with those of Lancaster, and, which was still more needful, brought their trenchant judgment and great military experience to the aid of that vacillating prince, the disaster which overtook him at Boroughbridge, where he was totally defeated by Sir Andrew de Harcla, might have been exchanged for victory, and the fate of Edward II. accelerated by a couple of years. As it happened, the operations of the Scots leaders were conducted without concert with English allies. It was a bitter, hard winter, "distressing men and killing nearly all animals."[1] No sooner had the truce expired at Christmas, than the weary, wasteful work of slaughter began again. Moray, Douglas, and Walter the Steward—a well-tried trio of comrades-in-arms—entered the bishopric of Durham early in January. Moray took up his quarters at Dermington, but the other two pressed on to Yorkshire, wringing a heavy subsidy from the district of Richmond as the price of exemption from harsh treatment.

The execution of Lancaster on March 22d, and the complete collapse of the rebellion, left King Edward once more free to turn his attention to the Scottish war. "Give yourself no further solicitude," he wrote to the Pope, "about a truce with the Scots; the exigencies of my affairs inclined me formerly to listen to such proposals, but now I am resolved to establish peace by force of arms."[2] But before he

  1. Fordun, cxxxvi.
  2. Hailes, ii., 126.