Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/402

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Robert the Bruce.

[1329 A.D.

the holy sepulchre where our Lord lay, and present it there, seeing my body cannot go thither. And wherever you come, let it be known that you carry with you the heart of King Robert of Scotland, at his own instance and desire, to be presented at the holy sepulchre.'"

Sir James at once pledged himself to the task, by the faith he owed to God and to the order of true knighthood. "Then I thank you," said the King, "for now I shall die in greater ease of mind, seeing I know that the most worthy and sufficient knight in my realm shall achieve for me that which I could not myself perform."

King Robert expired on June 7, 1329, aged fifty-four years and eleven months.

His heart was taken from his body, embalmed, placed in a silver casket, and given in charge of the Lord of Douglas. This was a breach of the rules of the Church, for in 1299, Pope Boniface VIII. had issued the Bull Detestando feritatis abusum, forbidding the mutilation of the dead, even from pious motives, decreeing to excommunication those who should do such things, and prohibiting ecclesiastical burial to any corpse so treated. But, as it is doubtful whether Douglas and all others concerned in this transaction had ever been formally absolved from the excommunication under which they had lain for so many years, probably it did not disquiet them unduly that they should incur fresh disgrace. Nevertheless, two years later, in August, 1331, Pope John, on the instance of the Earl of Moray, granted absolution to all who had taken part "in the inhuman and cruel treatment" of the body of King Robert.

The body itself was embalmed and taken to Dun-