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That nation being thus divided into as many factions as there were pretenders, the guardians of the realm would not undertake to decide a dispute of so much consequence. The nobility of the country were no less divided in their opinions; and after long debatęs, they at last unanimously agreed to refer the conteft to the determination of the king of England. The claims of all the other candidates were reduced to three; who were the descendants of the earl of Huntington by three daughters; John Hastings, who elaimed in right. of his mother, as one of the co. heiresses of the crown; John Baliol, who alleged his right, as being descended from the eldest daughter, who was his grandmother; and Robert Bruce, who was the actual son of the second daughter. In this contest, which was referred to Edward, he pretended the utmost degree of deliberation; and although he had long formed his resolution, yet he ordered all enquiries to be made on the subject, that he might be master of the arguments that could be advanced on any fide of the queftion. In this research, he soon discovered that some passages in old chronicles might be produced to favour his own secret inclinations, and without furțber delay, instead of admitting the claims of the competitors, he boldly urged his own; and, to second his pretensions, advanced with a formi. dable army to the frontiers of the kingdom.
The Scottish barons were thunder-struck at these unexpected pretensions; and though they felt the most extreme indignation at his procedure, yet they resolved to obey his summons to meet at the castle of Norbam ; a place fituated on the southern banks of the Tweed, where he convened the parliament of that country. He there produced the proofs of his superiority, which he alleged were unquestionable, and desired their
concurrence with his claims; at the same time advising them to use deliberation, and to examine all his allegations with impartial justice. To a proposal that appeared in itself so unreasonable. no immediate answer could be given; for where all is defe&tive, it is not easy to submit to the combating a part : the barons, therefore, continued filent; and Edward interpreting this for a confent, addressed himself to the several competitors to the crown, and previous tu his appointing one of them as his vassal, he required their acknowledgment of his superiority. He naturally concluded that none of them would venture to disoblige the man who was unanimously appointed to be the arbitrator of his pretensions. Nor was he deceived; he found them all equally obsequious on this occasion. Robert Bruce was the first who made the acknowledgment, and the rest quickly followed his example. Edward being thus become the fuperior of the kingdom, undertook next to confider which of the candidates was the fittest to be appointed under him ; or it may be, as they appeared all indifferent to him, which had the justeft claim. In order to give this deliberation the appearance of impartiality, an hundred commissioners were appointed, forty of them being chosen by the candidates who were in the inte. rests of John Baliol ; forty of those in the inte. refts of Robert Bruce; and twenty, who were chosen by Edward himself. Having thus fitted matters to his fatisfaction, he left the commiffioners to fit at Berwick; and went southward, to free their deliberations from all shadow of restraint. The subject of the dispute ultimately rested in this question, whether Baliol, who was descended from the elder sister, but farther removed by one degree, was to be preferred before Bruce, who was actually the younger sister's fon? The
the king had been kingdond, was on renewi
rights of inheritance, as at present generally practised over Europe, were even at that time pretty well ascertained; and not only the commissioners, but many of the best lawyers of the age universally concurred in affirming Baliol's fuperior claim. Edward, therefore, pronounced sentence in his favour; and that candidate upon renewing his oath of fealty to England, was put in pofseflion of the Scottish kingdom, and all its fortresses, which had been previously put into the hands of the king of England.
Baliol being thus placed upon the Scottish throne, less as a king than a vassal, Edward's first step was sufficient to convince that people of his intentions to stretch the prerogative to the utmost. Instead of gradually accustoming the Scots to bear the English yoke, and of niding in his new power upon them by flow and imperceptible degrees,' he began at once to give them not.ce of his intentions. A merchant of Gafcony had presented a petition to him, importing, that Alexander, the late king of Scotland, was indebted to him a large sum which was still unpaid, notwithstanding all his solicitations to Baliol, the present king, for payment ; Edward eagerly embraced this opportunity of exercising his new right, and fummoned the king of Scotland to appear at · Westminster, to answer in person the merchant's 'complaint. Upon subjets equally trivial, he sent fix different summonses, at different times, in one year ; so that the poor Scottish king soon perceiv. ed that he was poffeffed of the name only, but not the authority of a sovereign. Willing, there'fore, to shake off the yoke of so troublesome a - master, Baliol revolted, and procured the pope's abfolution from his former oaths of homage. To strengthen his hands still more, he entered into a secret treaty with Philip, king of France; which
was the commencement of an union between these two nations, that for so many succeeding ages were fatal to the interests of England. To confirm this alliance, the king of Scotland ftipulated a. marriage between his eldest son, and the daughter. of Philip de Valois.
Edward, to whom these transactions were no: secret, endeavoured to ward the threatened blow, by being the first aggressor; and accordingly fum. moned John to perform the duty of a vassal, and to send him a supply of forces against an invasion from France, with which state he had for some time been at variance. He also summoned him to furrender fome of his principal forts, and to appear at a parliament which was held at Newcastle. None of these commands, as he well foresaw, be. ing complied with, he resolved to enforce obedience by marching a body of thirty thousand foot, and four thousand horse, into the heart of the kingdom of Scotland. As the Scottish nation had little reliance on the vigour, or the courage of their king, they had assigned him a council of twelve noblemen to affilt; or, more properly speaking, to fuperintend his proceedings. They raised an army of forty thousand men, for the present emergency, and marched them away to the frontiers, which Edward was now preparing to attack. But fome of the most considerable of the Scottish nobility, among whom were Robert Bruce and his fon, endeavoured to ingratiate themselves with Edward by an early submission, which served not a little to intimidate those who still adhered to their king. The progress, therefore, of the Eng-, lish arms was extremely rapid ; Berwick was taken by assault; Sir William Douglass, the governor, made prisoner, and a garrison of seven thousand men put to the sword. Elated by these advantages, Edward dispatched the earl Warenne, with
ten thousand men, to lay siege to Dunbar ; and, the Scotch, sensible of the importance of that place, advanced with their whole army, under the command of the earls, Mar, Buchan, and Lenox, to relieve it. Although the superiority of numbers was greatly on their fide, yet courage and discipline was entirely on that of the English. The conflict was of short continuance; the Scots were foon thrown into confusion, and twenty thousand of their men were Nain upon the field of bactle. The castle of Dunbar, with all its garri. fon, surrendered the day following; and Ed.. wand, who was now come up with the main body of his army, led them onward into the country to certain conquest. The caftles of the greatest strength and importance opened their gates to him almost without resistance; and the whole southern part of the country acknowledged the conqueror.' The northern parts were not so easily reducible, being defended by the inacceslible mountains, and intricate forests, that deform the face of that country. To make brimself master of this part of the kingdom, Edward reinforted his army with numbers of men levied in Ireland and Wales, who, being used to this kind of desultory war, were best qualified to feek, or pursue the latent enemy. But Baliol made these preparations unnecessary; he found that a ready submission was more safe and easy than a fierce resistance drawn out among mountainous deserts, and those solitudes, made still more dreadful by famine. He hastened, therefore, to make his peace with the victor, and expressed the deepest repentance for his former disloyalty. To satisfy him ftill further, he made a folemn refignation of the crown into his hands ; and the whole kingdom soon after followed his example. Edward thus master of the kingdom, took every precaution to preserve his title, and to