Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/93

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1291-96 A.D.]

The Reign of John de Balliol.


second daughter of the said Earl of Huntingdon. He was, therefore, grandson of the Earl, and grand-nephew of the two Kings.[1]

It was a nice question, and one that had never, up to that time, been decided in feudal law, whether the succession ought to devolve on the more remote by one degree in descent from the elder sister (de Balliol), or on the nearer in degree from the younger (de Brus). So completely had Scotland become feudalised, that although the question involved was one of descent from her Celtic monarchy, the ancient Celtic law of Tanistry, by which succession had been wont to be regulated, does not seem to have been so much as mentioned. Under that law, succession went by descent from a common ancestor, but choice had to be made by the people of a man come to years fit for war and council, instead of the infant son or grandson of the last king.

The commissioners, having no precedent to guide them, felt unable to create one. They reported to the King on August 12th, that they had not been able to come to an agreement upon the question submitted to them, and declared "that they would not presume to give their advice in such a high matter without hearing the better judgment of the prelates, nobility, and other wise men of England."

The sitting was again adjourned, and Edward sum-

  1. John de Hastings, grandson of Ada, the third daughter, was a competitor also; but he only claimed one third of the kingdom, on the ground that, like other inheritances, it was divisible. His claim was disposed of by the preliminary decision that the kingdom, unlike other inheritances, was indivisible.