Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/217

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1313 A.D.]
Death of Edward I.

ever have come to be raised, had the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Maid of Norway been carried out. Edward had set his heart on this, for it contained the realisation of his life's dream. He had completed the conquest of Wales, and the whole island would have been united under one crown.

Then came the disputed succession. This was Edward's opportunity in one sense, for he had it in his power to nominate a puppet of his own. Scottish partisans declare that he did so; that he had made private overtures to Robert de Brus "le viel," undertaking to place him on the throne if he would do homage for his kingdom, but that de Brus refused the crown on these terms. There is not the slightest evidence of such a transaction. There is, on the other hand, clear evidence that Edward endeavoured to decide honestly a very delicate question, in the absence of precedent, and that he did so in accordance with our present principles of law. In all the preliminary proceedings he was careful to make written reservation of his claim as Lord Paramount; that claim was acknowledged by the Guardians of Scotland, and ratified by the first act of John de Balliol after his coronation. Thus, whatever may have been the relations between the two kingdoms on the death of Alexander III. in 1286, the King of England was the legitimate Over-lord of Scotland in 1295, and had been acknowledged as such by the Scottish King and people. The English view is, that when Balliol formed a treaty with Philip of France and renounced his fealty, Edward was acting within his rights in treating him and his subjects as rebels.