Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/276

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Alexander
Alexander
262

ment in the articles of the barons and in Magna Charta, it was provided: ‘Nos faciemus Alexandro regi Scottorum de sororibus suis et obsidibus reddendis et libertatibus suis et jure suo secundum formam in qua faciemus aliis baronibus nostris Angliæ, nisi aliter esse debet per cartas quas habemus de Willelmo patre suo quondam rege Scottorum; et hoc erit per judicium parium suorum in curia nostra.’ While Scotland had no original share in the rights guaranteed by the Great Charter, the fact that its monarch was one of the barons in whose favour the charter was granted had a reflex effect. The Scottish kings of the thirteenth century, unlike the English, were not enemies but friends of their barons and people, and under Alexander and his son Scotland enjoyed a measure of individual and national freedom and prosperity such as it had never known before, and did not again know until after the union. In fulfilment of his part of the agreement, Alexander in the winter of 1215 besieged Norham, and Eustace de Vesci in the name of the barons gave him seisin of the county of Northumberland. In the following year John with an army of mercenaries reduced the northern counties of England, and, advancing into Scotland, stormed Berwick and burnt Roxburgh, Haddington, and Dunbar. On his return his mercenaries pillaged Coldingham Abbey, and, before leaving Berwick on 22 Jan., set fire to the town, John with his own hand kindling the flames which burnt the house he had lodged in. ‘Let us bolt,’ he said, ‘the little red fox out of his covert,’ a lively image of the person of Alexander, who might, like William II, have been called Rufus, had he not received from his countrymen the epithet of the Peaceful. Scotland was too wide a covert, and Alexander having kept safe in the Pentlands, as soon as the English king retreated, crossed the western border, wasting the king's lands as far as Carlisle. Some of his Celtic followers burnt HolmCultram Priory, but those who escaped the vengeance of God, by which 1,900 were drowned, according to the Chronicle of Melrose, were punished by Alexander. He did not then take Carlisle, but, returning in August with a larger army, reduced the town without taking the castle; then traversing England he met and did homage at Dover to Louis, the son of Philip Augustus, who had been called to their aid by the English barons. His homeward march would have been intercepted by the destruction of the bridges on the Trent but for the death of John at Newark on 19 Oct. 1216, and he at last succeeded in taking the castle of Carlisle and the fort at Tweedmouth. In the following May Alexander again invaded England, but the defeat of Louis at Lincoln forced him to make peace with the young Henry III, restoring Carlisle, and receiving, on renewal of homage, his hereditary fiefs in England. He was also released from the excommunication which Innocent III had by his legate, Cardinal Gualo, declared against the barons and their allies in the contest with John for the liberties of England. Three years later, at York, the peace between England and Scotland was confirmed by a treaty which stipulated that Alexander was to marry an English princess, Joan the elder, or Isabella the younger, daughter of John, and that Henry should provide suitable husbands for the Scottish princesses Margaret and Isabella. In accordance with these arrangements, Alexander married Joan on 19 June 1221, and Margaret Hubert de Burgh, then the chief minister of the young king. In 1225 Isabella was united to Roger Bigod. The effect of these alliances and the prudent character of Alexander was to preserve peace between England and Scotland. This settlement left him free to enlarge and strengthen his own kingdom by reducing the lawless outlying districts, of which the population was still mainly Celtic, and whose chiefs were only nominally subject to the Scottish crown. Already, in the year of his accession, an attack on Moray under Donald Bane, son of Mac William, and Kenneth Mac Heth, aided by an Irish provincial king, had been quelled by Ferquhard Mac-in-Sagart of Ross, who was rewarded by a knighthood; and the year before his marriage Alexander turned his attention to the reduction of Argyle, which he accomplished in 1222 after a preliminary attempt in the autumn of 1221. Instead of generally forfeiting their estates, he took oaths of fealty from the chiefs who submitted, and gave them the lands of those who did not. The creation of a new sheriffdom out of Argyle (except Lorne, which remained under the immediate rule of its chief, the representative of the elder line of Somerled, Lord of the Isles), and of a new bishopric at Lismore, separated from the diocese of Dunkeld, were the marks of the introduction of royal authority and civil and ecclesiastical order in the mainland of the western highlands, and in the islands of Bute and Arran at the mouth of the Clyde. In 1222 the burning of Adam, bishop of Caitlmess, in revenge for an exorbitant exaction of tithe gave Alexander the opportunity of asserting his power in the east. John, earl of Caithness, suspected of connivance, was forced to give up part of his lands and pay compensation, and the immediate perpetrators were exe-