Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/427

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1329-32 A.D.]
357
Expedition of Douglas.

Not only was it held incumbent on every true Christian to take no rest till the Saracens were expelled from the holy city, but King Robert and his subjects firmly believed that the guilt which lay upon his conscience could only be atoned for by some signal service done to the Cross. Both Barbour and Froissart, in their accounts of the King's dying words, dwell on the emphasis he laid on this.

"For throu me and my warraying
Of blud thar has bene gret spilling,
Quhar mony sakless[1] men was slane."

So that the King believed that, besides the jeopardy of his own salvation, unknown evils might descend upon his beloved people if no special act of atonement were undertaken. This enterprise, then, which seems quixotic, or, at best, romantic, in our eyes, partook in the fourteenth century of the nature of State policy.

There may have been this further thought in the dying King's mind. Thomas, Earl of Moray, and James, Lord of Douglas, had long been generous rivals in the service of King and country. It had required a little tact, sometimes, to keep this rivalry within bounds; witness that little scene between Ring Robert and Lyn of Spalding, before the successful assault on Berwick. When Lyn revealed the plan by which he proposed to deliver the town, the King said:

  1. Innocent.