John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

1303 Battle of Roslyn

1305 Robert "The Bruce" murders John "Red Comyn"

1305 Execution of William Wallace

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV is in John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

Battle of Roslyn

On the 27th of July 1302, [Note. The date here confusing since the Battle of Roslyn] is reported to have taken place on 24 Feb 1303] took place the great and famous engagement between the Scots and English, at Roslyn, where the English were defeated, though with great difficulty. From the beginning of the first war which ever broke out between the Scots and English, it is said, there never was so desperate a struggle, or one in which the stoutness of knightly prowess shone forth so brightly. The commander and leader in this struggle was John Comyn (33), the son. Now this was how this struggle came about, and the manner thereof. After the battle fought at Falkirk, the king of England (63) came not in person, for the nonce, this side of the water of Forth ; but sent a good large force, which plundered the whole land of Fife, with all the lands lying near the town of Perth, after having killed a great many of the dwellers in those lands. On the return of this force, with countless spoils, that king (63) hied him home again with his host. Now this was brought about, doubtless, by God's agency : for had he made a lengthened stay then, or after the battle of Dunbar and the seizure of King John (53), he would either have subjugated the whole land of Scotland, and the dwellers therein, to his sway, or made it a waste with naught but floods and stones. But the goodness of God, Who alone tends and heals after wounds, so governed the actions and time of that king, that, being stirred up to battle, and engrossed with sundry wars, he could not put off all other matters, and give himself up to subduing this kingdom. So that king of England (63) went back with his men, having first appointed the officers of the sheriffdoms, and the wardens of the castles, in the districts beyond the water of Forth, which were then fully and wholly subject unto his sway — with the exception of a few outlaws (or, indeed, robbers), of Scottish birth, who were lurking in the woods, and could not, because of their misdeeds, submit to the laws. But John Comyn (33), then guardian of Scotland, and Simon Eraser, with their followers, day and night did their best to harass and annoy, by their great prowess, the aforesaid king's officers and bailiffs ; and from the time of that king's departure, for four years and more, the English and the Anglicized Scots were harried by them, in manifold ways, by mutual slaughter and carnage, according to the issue of various wars.
When the aforesaid king (63) had got news of this, he sent off a certain nobleman, Ralph Confrere, his treasurer (Ralph de Manton, the Cofferer), a man stout in battle, and of tried judgment and wisdom, with a certain body of chosen knights, thoroughly well-armed, to seek out, in every hole and corner, those who troubled and disturbed the king's peace, and not to forbear punishing them with the penalty of death. So they entered Scotland, and went about ranging through the land, until they, at Roslyn, pitched their tents, split up into three lines apart, for want of free camping room. But the aforesaid John Comyn (33) and Simon, with their abettors, hearing of their arrival, and wishing to steal a march rather than have one stolen upon them, came briskly through from Biggar to Eoslyn, in one night, with some chosen men, who chose rather death before unworthy subjection to the English nation; and, all of a sudden, they fearlessly fell upon the enemy. But having been, a little before, roused by the sentries, all those of the first line seized their weapons, and manfully withstood the attacking foe. At length, however, the former were overcome. Some were taken, and some slain ; while some, again, fled to the other line. But, while the Scots were sharing the booty, another line straightway appeared, in battle-array ; so the Scots, on seeing it, slaughtered their prisoners, and armed their own vassals with the spoils of the slain ; then, putting away their jaded horses, and taking stronger ones, they fearlessly hastened to the fray. When this second line had been, at length, overcome, though with difficulty, and the Scots thought they had ended their task, there appeared a third, mightier than the former, and more choice in their harness. The Scots were thunderstruck at the sight of them ; and being both fagged out in manifold ways, — by the fatigues of travelling, watching, and want of food — and also sore distressed by the endless toil of fighting, began to be weary, and to quail in spirit, beyond belief. But, when the people were thus thrown into bewilderment, the aforesaid John and Simon, with , hearts undismayed, took up, with their weapons, the office of preachers ; and, comforting them with their words, cheering them with their promises, and, moreover, reminding them of the nobleness of freedom, and the baseness of thraldom, and of the unwearied toil which their ancestors had willingly undertaken for the deliverance of their country, they, with healthful warnings, heartened them to the fray. So, being greatly emboldened by these and such-like words, the Scots laid aside all cowardice, and got back their strength. Then they slaughtered their prisoners, with whose horses and arms they were again — as it were — renewed ; and, putting their trust in God, they and their armed vassals marched forward most bravely and dashingly to battle. The shock was so mighty and fierce, that many were run through, and bereft of life ; and some of either host, after awful spear-thrusts, savage flail-strokes, and hard cudgelling, withdrew from the ranks, by hundreds, forties, and twenties, to the hills, time after time, fagged out and dazed by the day's fighting. There they would throw back their helmets, and let the winds blow upon them ; and after having been thus cooled by the breeze, they would put away their wounded horses, and, mounting other fresh ones, would thus be made stronger against the onslaughts of the foe. So, after this manifold ordeal and awful struggle, the Scots, who, if one looked at the opposite side, were very few in number — as it were a handful of corn or flour compared with the multitude of the sea-sand — by the power, not of man, but of God, subdued their foes, and gained a happy and gladsome victory.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

In revenge for the foregoing outrages, the king of England (63), with a very large force, both by sea and by land, entered Scotland, in the year 1303, with the deliberate design of once for all fully bringing it, and the dwellers therein, under his yoke ; or, of sweeping out the inhabitants altogether, and reducing the land itself to an utter and irreclaimable wilderness. Having, therefore, scoured the hills and plains, both on this side of the hills and beyond them, he, in person, reached Lochindorb ; and, after making some stay there, he received the submission of the northern districts, and appointed officers of his in all the castles and fortified towns surrendered to him. Eeturning thence leisurely, he received the submission of all the communities, as well as fortresses and castles they passed through, with none to withstand or attack him ; and, after much winding about through the land, he got to Dunfermline, where he lingered a long time, wintering there until Candlemas. The same year, his son and heir, Edward of Carnarvon (18), Prince of Wales, made a long stay in the town of Perth. Food was in such plenty there, for the whole of the aforesaid time, that a laggen, Scottish measure, of good wine sold for fourpence.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

The same year, after the whole Estates of Scotland had made their submission to the king of England, John Comyn, then guardian, and all the magnates but William Wallace, little by little, one after another, made their submission unto him ; and all their castles and towns — except Strivelyn Castle, and the warden thereof — were surrendered unto him. That year, the king kept Lent at Saint Andrews, where he called together all the great men of the kingdom, and held his parliament ; and he made such decrees as he would, according to the state of the country — which, as he thought, had been gotten and won for him and his successors for ever — as well as about the dwellers therein.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

Just after Easter, in the year 1304, that same king besieged Strivelyn Castle for three months without a break. For this siege, he commanded all the lead of the refectory of Saint Andrews to be pulled down, and had it taken away for the use of his engines. At last, the aforesaid castle was surrendered and delivered unto him on certain conditions, drawn up in writing, and sealed with his seal. But when he had got the castle, the king (64) belied his troth, and broke through the conditions: for William Oliphant, the warden thereof, he threw bound into prison in London, and kept him a long time in thrall. The same year, when both great and small in the kingdom of Scotland (except William Wallace alone) had made their submission unto him ; when the surrendered castles and fortified towns, which had formerly been broken down and knocked to pieces, had been all rebuilt, and he had appointed wardens of his own therein ; and after all and sundry of Scottish birth had tendered him homage, the king (64), with the Prince of Wales (19), and his whole army, returned to England. He left, however, the chief warden as his lieutenant, to amend and control the lawlessness of all the rest, both Scots and English. He did not show his face in Scotland after this.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

After the withdrawal of the king of England, the English nation lorded it in all parts of the kingdom of Scotland, ruthlessly harrying the Scots in sundry and manifold ways, by insults, stripes, and slaughter, under the awful yoke of slavery. But God, in His mercy, as is the wont of His fatherly goodness, had compassion on the woes, the ceaseless crying and sorrow, of the Scots ; so He raised up a saviour and champion unto them — one of their own fellows, to wit, named Robert of Bruce. This man, seeing them stretched in the slough of woe, and reft of all hope of salvation and help, was inwardly touched with sorrow of heart ; and, putting forth his hand unto force, underwent the countless and unbearable toils of the heat of day, of cold and hunger, by land and sea, gladly welcoming weariness, fasting, dangers, and the snares not only of foes, but also of false friends, for the sake of freeing his brethren.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

So, in order that he might actually give effect to what he had gladly set his heart upon, for the good of the commonwealth, he humbly approached a certain noble, named John Comyn (who was then the most powerful man in the country), and faithfully laid before him the unworthy thraldom of the country, the cruel and endless tormenting of the people, and his own kind-hearted plan for giving them relief. Though, by right, and according to the laws and customs of the country, the honour of the kingly office and the succession to the governance of the kingdom were known to belong to him before any one else, yet, setting the public advantage before his own, Robert, in all purity and sincerity of purpose, gave John the choice of one of two courses: either that the latter should reign, and wholly take unto himself the kingdom, with its pertinents and royal honours, for ever, granting to the former all his own lands and possessions; or that all Robert's lands and possessions should come into the possession of John and his for ever, while the kingdom and the kingly honour were left to Robert. Thus, by their mutual advice as well as help, was to be brought to maturity the deliverance of the Scottish nation from the house of bondage and unworthy thraldom ; and an indissoluble treaty of friendship and peace was to last between them. John was perfectly satisfied with the latter of the aforesaid courses ; and thereupon a covenant was made between them, and guaranteed by means of sworn pledges, and by their indentures with their seals attached thereto. But John broke his word ; and, heedless of the sacredness of his oath, kept accusing Robert before the king of England, through his ambassadors and private letters, and wickedly revealing that Robert's secrets. Although, however, Robert was more than once sounded thereupon by the aforesaid king, who even showed him the letters of his adversary who accused him, yet, inspired by God, he always returned an answer such that he over and over again softened the king's rage by his pleasant sayings and skilful words. The king, however, both because he was himself very wily and shrewd, and knew full well how to feign a sham friendship, and also because Robert was the true heir of the kingdom of Scotland, looked upon the latter with mistrust, — the more so because of John's accusations. So, because of his aforesaid grounds for mistrust, Edward bade Robert stay always at court ; and he delayed putting him to death — or, at least, in prison — only until he could get the rest of this Robert's brothers together, and punish them and him at once, in one day, with sentence of death.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

As the said John's accusations were repeated, at length, one night, while the wine glittered in the bowl, and that king was hastening to sit down with his secretaries, he talked over Robert's death in earnest, — and shortly determined that he would deprive him of life on the morrow. But when the Earl of Gloucester, who was Robert's true and tried friend in his utmost need, heard of this, he hastily, that same night, sent the aforesaid Robert, by his keeper of the wardrobe, twelve pence and a pair of spurs. So the keeper of the wardrobe, who guessed his lord's wishes, presented these things to Robert, from his lord, and added these words : " My lord sends these to you, in return for what he, on his side, got from you yesterday." Robert understood, from the tokens offered him, that he was threatened by the danger of death ; so he discreetly gave the pence to the keeper of the wardrobe, and forthwith sent him back to the Earl with greeting in answer, and with thanks.
Then, when twilight came on, that night, after having ostentatiously ordered his servants to meet him at Carlisle, with his trappings, on the evening of the following day, he straightway hastened towards Scotland, without delay, and never stopped travelling, day or night, until he was safe from the aforesaid king's spite. Tor he was under the guidance of One of whom it is written : — " There is no wisdom, no foresight, no understanding against the Lord, who knoweth how to snatch the good from trial, and mercifully to deliver from danger those that trust in Him.".

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

Now, when Robert was nearing the borders of the marches, there met him a messenger whom, when he sighted him afar off, he suspected, both from the fellow's gait and from his dress, to be a Scot. So, when he got nearer, he asked him whence he came and whither he was making his way. The messenger began to pour forth excuses for his sins ; but Robert ordered his vassals to search him. Letters, sealed with Robert's seal about the covenant entered into between him and John Comyn, were found addressed to the king of England through this messenger, and were forthwith pulled out. The messenger's head was thereupon struck off, and God very much be praised for His guidance in this prosperous journey.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

Execution of William Wallace

In the year 1305, William Wallace was craftily and treacherously taken by John of Menteith (30), who handed him over to the king of England (66) ; and he was, in London, torn limb from limb, and, as a reproach to the Scots, his limbs were hung on towers in sundry places throughout England and Scotland.

John of Fordun's Chronicle of the Scottish Nation Volume IV

Robert "The Bruce" murders John "Red Comyn"

The same year, after the aforesaid Robert (30) had left the king of England (65) and returned home, no less miraculously than by God's grace, a day is appointed for him and the aforesaid John (36) to meet together at Dumfries ; and both sides repair to the above-named place. John Comyn (36) is twitted with his treachery and belied troth. The lie is at once given. The evil-speaker is stabbed, and wounded unto death, in the church of the Friars ; and the wounded man is, by the friars, laid behind the altar. On being asked by those around whether he could live, straightway his answer is : — " I can." His foes, hearing this, give him another wound ; — and thus was he taken away from this world on the 10th of February.