Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/97

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1296 A.D.]

The Reign of John de Balliol.


defence recommended by Hailes was not open for de Balliol to take. So far from Alexander's words having been "cursorily" uttered or heard, they were spoken in and ratified by the National Assembly.

"The Great Council being assembled together, they decreed and adjudged by all their own laws, and by the imperial and other laws, that the son born of the second sister should inherit in preference to the daughter born of the eldest sister. And all present, Clergy as well as Laity, unanimously declared the same as the true judgment of the King. Such judgment having been given by the Great Council and accepted by the Sovereign, he, King Alexander, took Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale who now is, by the hand, and presented him to all the nobles and magnates, clerks, and laymen then and there present, as his true and legitimate heir to the kingdom of Scotland; and all such magnates, by the King's command and in his presence, took the oath of fealty to the Lord Robert de Brus upon the Holy Gospels. And this act or deed was duly recorded upon the rolls of the Treasury of Scotland: but the memorialists know not into whose hands it has fallen."[1]

One cannot but suspect that, had the Lord of Annandale been less heavily stricken in years—"superannuated," to use Lord Hailes's expression,—this part of his claim would have been more stoutly supported. The fact that he had received the fealty of certain barons of Scotland then living, is quite enough to account for the rising in his favour on the death of the Maid of Norway, and certainly puts that transaction, hitherto so obscure, in a less ambiguous light. Nor can it have been absent from the thoughts of Annandale's grandson,

  1. Palgrave, Introduction xvii., and pp. 14-24, where the appeal of the Seven Earls will be found printed at length.