Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/138

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Robert the Bruce.

[1299 A.D.-

which the English King peremptorily refused, on the ground that Scotland was his property, and that he possessed the fealty of its prelates and nobles. But any monarch, in those days of ecclesiastical statesmanship and authority, might well hesitate to dispute a claim put forth by the Head of the Church of Rome.

On November 13th, the three Guardians, who were then besieging Stirling Castle, wrote to Edward, offering to cease hostilities on the mediation of the King of France. Edward was, at the moment, pushing forward preparations for a fresh expedition into Scotland; but matters were not going so smoothly between him and his barons as was their wont. A muster of 16,000 men, ordered at Newcastle for the 24th, was postponed by proclamation till December 13th; and when that date came, the barons refused to advance, because of the stormy weather. Stirling, therefore, had to be left to its fate. John Sampson, the constable, with his garrison of 90 men, surrendered to Sir John de Soulis, after suffering severe privation.

The Highlands and Islands were now pretty free from the English. Even in the Lowlands, besides Stirling, the castles of Bothwell[1] and Caerlaverock[2] were held for the Guardians. Of the last named place, Sir John de Maxwell was the lord, who, if Blind Harry may be believed, had entertained Wallace there after the capture of Tibbers and other places in Nithsdale. Caerlaverock stood perilously

  1. Bain, ii., 498.
  2. Ibid., 279.