Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/95

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1296 A.D.]

The Reign of John de Balliol.


chroniclers do not hesitate to impute bad faith to Edward in pronouncing judgment. Fordun and Wyntoun declare that the commissioners delivered their award in favour of de Brus, but that the Bishop of Durham dissuaded the King from ratifying it, because de Brus would prove far too powerful a monarch. They allege further, that the Earl of Gloucester stood before King Edward, holding his kinsman, de Brus, by the hand, and cried: "Recollect, O King! what kind of judgment thou hast given this day; and know that thou must be judged at the last." But there is no reason to suppose that Edward saw in de Balliol a more pliant vassal than in the aged de Brus. Bishop Fraser, at all events, had put him as much on his guard against one as against the other.

Of a truth there is not a shred of evidence to support the allegation that de Brus expressed any dissent from the award, whatever may have been his private feelings and those of his partisans. Of far greater significance is the fact that, in giving his award, Edward made no reference to that part of de Brus's case which, though the strongest of all, has been overlooked or set aside by all subsequent critics, until Sir Francis Palgrave pointed out its true bearing on the question. It was part of de Brus's pleadings, that in 1238, when King Alexander II. was in declining years, despairing of any issue of his body, he did with, and by the assent of the probi homines of his kingdom, acknowledge and designate the Lord of Annandale to be his lawful heir, as being nearest of blood to himself. Many of the