Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/386

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326
[1327 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham, William de Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, and William de Melton, Archbishop of York, took the field as readily and as fully armed as any layman; and that not only in defence of the possessions of the Church, but often as generals of an invading army. Yet they were not to be held subject to the vicissitudes of war, but were to receive back their lands on the restoration of peace, an advantage refused to legitimate men of the sword. Then the uneasiness of King Robert and his people, owing to the repeated exercise against him of bell, book and candle, is apparent in the third article of this treaty. It is true that the solemn curses of the Church had proved singularly ineffective as regards the temporal affairs of Scotland. The louder and deeper the execrations, the more brightly fortune had smiled on the Scottish arms; and the greater the favour shown by the Pope to the English cause, the more hopelessly it became rent by internal dissensions, while the object of these denunciations had continued to receive such heart-whole service from his barons and people as has seldom been the lot of any monarch. Truly it seemed as if in this quarrel the Church had made a grievous blunder and chosen the wrong side.

Nevertheless it was an age of deep, if superstitious faith, and the old King of Scots still, perhaps, thought of that far off day when the altar-steps of Greyfriars church had dripped with the life blood of the Red Comyn. Sacrilege and murder under trust had left a stain which it would take all the favour of Mother Church to wash out of the record, and, notwith-