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importance. If the one crown had been considered BOOK not as imperial and independent, but as feudatory to the other, a treaty of union could not have been the indeconcluded on equal terms, and every advantage
pendence which the dependent kingdom procured, must have land. been deemed the concession of a sovereign to his vassal. Accordingly, about the beginning of the present century, and while a treaty of union between the two kingdoms was negotiating, this controversy was agitated with all the heat which national animosities naturally inspire. What was then the subject of serious concern, the union of the two kingdoms had rendered a matter of mere curiosity. But though the objects which at that time warmed and interested both nations, exist no longer, a question which appeared so momentous to our ancestors cannot be altogether indifferent or uninstructive to us.
Some of the northern counties of England were early in the hands of the Scottish Kings, who, as far back as the feudal customs can be traced, held these possessions of the Kings of England, and did homage to them on that account. This homage, due only for the territories which they held in England, was in no wise derogatory from their royal dignity. Nothing is more suitable to feudal ideas, than that the same person should be both a lord and a vassal, independent in one capacity, and dependent in anotherb. The crown of England was, without doubt,
* A very singular proof of this occurs in the French history. Arpin sold the vicomté of the city of Bourges to Philip I. who did homage to the Count of Sancerre for a part of these lands, which held of that nobleman, A. D. 1100. I believe that no example
BO O K imperial and independent, though the Princes who
wore it were, for many ages, the vassals of the Kings of France; and, in consequence of their possessions in that kingdom, bound to perform all the services which a feudal sovereign has a title to exact. The same was the condition of the Monarchs of Scotland; free and independent as Kings of their own country, but, as possessing English territories, vassals to the King of England. The English Monarchs, satisfied with their legal and uncontroverted rights, were, during a long period, neither capable,
had any thoughts, of usurping more. England when conquered by the Saxons, being divided by them into many small kingdoms, was in no condition to extend its dominion over Scotland, united at that timeunder one monarch. And though these petty principalities were gradually formed into one kingdom, the reigning Princes, exposed to continual invasions of the Danes, and often subjected to the yoke of those formidable pirates, seldom turned their arms towards Scotland, and were little able to establish new rights in that country. The first Kings of the Norman race, busied with introducing their own laws and manners into the kingdom which they had conquered, or with maintaining themselves on the throne which some of them possessed by a very
of a King's doing homage to one of his own subjects, is to be met with in the histories either of England or Scotland. Philip le Bel abolished this practice in France, A. D. 1302. Henault Abregé Chronol. Somewhat similar to this, is a charter of the Abbot of Melross, A. D. 1535, eonstituting James V. the Bailiff or Steward of that Abbey, vesting in him all the powers which pertained to that office, and requiring him to be answerable to the Abbot for his exercise of the same. Archiv. publ. Edin.
dubious title, were as little solicitous to acquire new BOOK authority, or to form new pretensions in Scotland. An unexpected calamity that befell one of the Scottish Kings first encouraged the English to think of bringing his kingdom under dependence. William, surnamed the Lion, being taken prisoner at Alnwick, Henry II. as the price of his liberty, not only extorted from him an exorbitant ransom, and a promise to surrender the places of greatest strength in his dominions, but compelled him to do homage for his whole kingdom. Richard I., a generous Prince, solemnly renounced this claim of homage; and absolved William from the hard conditions which Henry had imposed. Upon the death of Alexander III., near a century after, Edward I., availing himself of the situation of affairs in Scotland, acquired an influence in that kingdom, which no English Monarch before him ever possessed, and imitating the interested policy of Henry, rather than the magnanimity of Richard, revived the claim of sovereignty to which the former had pretended.
Margaret of Norway, grand-daughter of Alexan- Pretender, and heir to his crown, did not long survive sions of him. The right of succession belonged to the de- Ballol exscendants of David Earl of Huntingdon, third son of King David I. Among these, Robert Bruce and John Baliol, two illustrious competitors for the crown, appeared. Bruce was the son of Isabel, Earl David's second daughter ; Baliol, the grandson of Margaret the eldest daughter. According to the rules of succession which are now established, the right of Baliol was preferable; and notwithstanding Bruce's plea of being nearer in blood to Earl David,
BO O K Baliol's claim, as the representative of his mother
and grandmother, would be deemed incontestable. But in that age the order of succession was not ascertained with the same precision. The question appeared to be no less intricate than it was important. Though the prejudices of the people, and perhaps the laws of the kingdom, favoured Bruce, each of the rivals was supported by a powerful faction. Arms alone, it was feared, must terminate a dispute too weighty for the laws to decide. But, in order to avoid the miseries of a civil war, Edward
chosen umpire, and both parties agreed to acquiesce in his decree. This had well nigh proved fatal to the independence of Scotland; and the nation, by its eagerness to guard against a civil war, was not only exposed to that calamity,. but almost subjected to a foreign yoke. Edward was artful, brave, enterprising, and commanded a powerful and martial people, at peace with the whole world. The anarchy which prevailed in Scotland, and the ambition of competitors ready to sacrifice their country in order to obtain even a dependent crown, invited him first to seize and then to subject the kingdom. The authority of an umpire, which had been unwarily bestowed upon him, and from which the Scots dreaded no dangerous consequences, enabled him to execute his schemes with the greater facility. Under pretence of examining the question with the utmost solemnity, he summoned all the Scottish Barons to Norham ; and having gained some and intimidated others, he prevailed on all who were present, not excepting Bruce and Baliol, the competitors, to acknowledge Scotland to be a fief of the
English Crown, and to swear fealty to him as their B 0 0 K Sovereign or Liege Lord. This step led to another still more important. As it was vain to pronounce a sentence which he had not power to execute, Edward demanded possession of the kingdom, that he might be able to deliver it to him whose right should be found preferable ; and such was the pusillanimity of the nobles, and the impatient ambition of the competitors, that both assented to this strange demand, and Gilbert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus, was the only man who refused to surrender the castles in his custody to the enemy of his country. Edward, finding Baliol the most obsequious and the least formidable of the two competitors, soon after gave judgement in his favour. Baliol once more professed himself the vassal of England, and submitted to every condition which the Sovereign whom he had now acknowledged was pleased to prescribe.
Edward, having thus placed a creature of his own upon the throne of Scotland, and compelled the nobles to renounce the ancient liberties and independence of their country, had reason to conclude that his dominion was now fully established. But he began too soon to assume the master : his new vassals, fierce and independent, bore with impatience a yoke to which they were not accustomed. Provoked by his haughtiness, even the passive spirit of Baliol began to mutiny. But Edward, who had no longer use for such a pageant King, forced him to resign the crown, and openly attempted to seize it as fallen to himself by the rebellion of his vassal. At that critical period arose Sir William Wallace,