Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603

By William Croft Dickinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX 'Dark and Drublie Days'

ALTHOUGH THE treaty of 1328 was accompanied by the marriage of David and Joan - a marriage 'for the assurance and confirming' of peace between Scotland and England - the treaty was unstable. It was unpopular in England, where it was called 'the shameful peace', and it was ascribed to treachery and cowardice on the part of Isabella and Mortimer who, it was argued, had sold to Scotland her independence for the paltry sum of £20,000, and moreover, at a time when Bruce was dying. Above all, once Edward III had established himself as a personal king ( 1330), he soon found an agent willing to help him to imitate the Scottish designs of his grandfather, Edward I. So the reign of Bruce's son, David II, was to be one of much misery and distress: unfortunate or incompetent regents were succeeded by a king who lacked his father's character; internal dissensions accompanied a renewed struggle with England, leading to great economic distress; and, in the midst of it all, the plague of the 'Black Death' afflicted Scotland in 1349 and 1350 recurring with equal violence in 1361 and 1362.

David II, the son of King Robert I, was just over five years old when he became king. In accordance with the act of 1318 settling the succession to the crown, Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, assumed the regency; and, in accordance with the papal Bull of 1329, David was anointed and crowned at Scone on 24 November 1331. But within a year thereafter Scotland was again fighting for her independence against a new threat from England.

Randolph, 'a man to be remembered while integrity, prudence and valour are held in esteem', died on 20 July 1332. According to the act of 1318 he should have been succeeded in the regency by Sir James Douglas, but Douglas, taking the heart of Bruce to the Holy Land, had been killed in Spain when fighting against the Moors ( August 1330). The new regent, chosen by the magnates ( 2 August 1332), was Donald, earl of Mar, a nephew of King Robert I; and, within the next few days, on 6 August 1332, Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol, landed with a small force at Kinghorn in Fife. On 12 August 1332 the new regent was defeated and slain at Dupplin, near Perth.1 The struggle had begun anew.

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1
It is said that Balliol's force was guided to a ford over the river Earn by a Murray of Tullibardine, and was thus able to make an early morning surprise attack on the sleeping Scots. But the defeat of the Scottish army by a much smaller English force was due partly to Mar's military incompetence and partly to the English archers who, spread out on the flanks, poured a murderous rain of arrows on to the massed Scots.

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