A conference between the prelates and barons of Scotland on one side, and King Edward and his ministers on the other, took place at Norham, on the English bank of the Tweed, on May 10, 1291. It was opened by a memorable speech on the part of the King of England, composed in Latin by William Hotham, Provincial of Predicant Friars, and delivered in French by Roger le Brabazom, Justiciary of England. It announced the King's acceptance of the office of arbitrator, "out of his good-will and affection to the whole nation, and to each individual in it; for in their defence he himself was interested." He had come, he said, as Superior and Lord Paramount of the kingdom of Scotland, and he required, as a preliminary act, that they should acknowledge him as such.
The Scots requested time to consider such a weighty demand; they were given twenty-four hours. Next day they asked for further delay. Edward granted them three weeks, by which time his demand would be emphasised by a display of force, for he had summoned the barons of northern England to assemble at Norham, cum armis et equis, on June 3d. It is to be noted that among his English lieges thus called to arms, there were included two, at least, of the competitors, namely, Robert de Brus and John de Balliol.
Besides these military preparations, Edward took pains to collect historical evidence in support of his claim to the suzerainty, and it is impossible for any impartial person to doubt the sincerity of his desire not to exceed what he believed to be his just rights.