Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/413

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1329 A.D.]
Death of Robert de Brus.

The least fascinating page of his warfare was the melancholy expedition to Ireland.

Lastly, he was always exceedingly anxious to be at peace with England, though inflexible in the terms on which alone he would consent to it.

As a civil ruler Robert I. had scant time to develop a policy, but enough remains to show that, had he been longer spared to his country, he would have displayed the same energy in the affairs of peace, which had been so conspicuous in warfare.

During the reign of David I. and Alexander III. the burghs of Scotland had attained a considerable degree of wealth and importance. Though not represented in Parliament until the Cambuskenneth session of 1326, there never had arisen between them and the feudal owners of the soil any of that jealousy and discord which is such a marked feature in the early history of some other countries. The code of chivalry was as scrupulously observed and honoured among the Scottish barons as in any other European court, but it never prevailed to set up a cold barrier of caste between the seigneury and the burgesses. The cadets of noble and knightly families were not held to forfeit their rank if they engaged in trade, and successful merchants sometimes became the founders of noble families. There is good reason to suppose that even the gentle knight, Sir James of Douglas, was descended from a wealthy Flemish merchant, Freskin, to whom David I. granted extensive lands in the conquered province of Moray; though it suited Hume of Godscroft, writing in the 17th century, to please his powerful patron, the