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these fums were very great, yet they were by no means adequate to the wants of the state. New taxes were, therefore, arbitrarily imposed. Edward laid a duty of forty thillings a fack upon wool; he required the sheriffs of each county to supply him with two thousand quarters of wheat, and as many of oats, without considering the manner they were to be obtained. These he levied by way of loans, promising to pay an equivalent, whenever the exigencies of the state were less pressing,
Such various modes of oppreffion were not suffered without murmuring. The clergy were already disgusted to a man ; the people complained at those extortions they could not refift; while many of the more powerful barons, jealous of their own privileges, as well as of national liberty, gave countenance to the general discontent.
The first symptoms of this spirit of resistance appeared, upon the king's ordering Humphry Bohun, the constable, and Roger Bigod, the mareschal of England, to take the command of an army that he proposed to send over into Gascony, while he himself intended to make a diversion on the side of Flanders. But these two powerful noblemen refused to obey his orders, alleging, that they were obliged by their offices to attend him only in the wars, and not to conduct his armies. A violent altercation ensued. The king, addrersing himself to the constable, cried out, “ Sir earl, by God, you shall either go, or be hanged.” To which the haughty baron replied, “Sir king, by God, I will neither go, nor be hanged.” This opposition quite defeated his scheme for the conquest of Guienne. He found he had driven prerogative a little too far ; and with that presence of mind which always brought him back, when he had the least gone beyond the line of discretion,
he desired to be reconciled to his barons, to the church, and to his people. He therefore pleaded the urgent necessities of the crown; and promised upon his return from Flanders, whither he was then going, to redress all grievances, to restore the execution of the laws, and to make his subjects compensation for the losses which they had sustained. These professions served pretty well to allay the kindling discontents of the nation, during his absence abroad, except that the ensuing parliament only the two noblemen, attended by a great body of cavalry and infantry, took poffeffion of the city gates, and obliged the king's council to sign the Magna Charta, and to add a clause, to secure the nation for ever against all impositions and taxes, without the consent of parliament. This the council readily agreed to sign; and the king him. . self, when it was sent over to him in Flanders, after some hesitation, thought proper to do the fame. These concessions he again confirmed up. on bis return; and though it is probable he was averse to granting them, yet he was at last brought to give a plenary consent to all the articles that were demanded of him. Thus, after the contest of an age, the Magna Charta was finally established; nor was it che least circumstance in its , favour, that its confirmation was procured from one of the greatest and boldeft princes that ever swayed the English fceptre. - But though the confirmation of this charter was
obtained without much violence, yet it is probable that the disturbance given by Scotland about the fame time, might have hastened its final execution. That fierce nation, which had no been conquered some time before with so much ease, ftill discovered a spirit of 1297. independence, that no severity could restrain, or defeats fubdue. The earl Warrenne had been Vol. II.
left justiciary in that kingdom ; and his prudence and moderation were equal to his valour. He therefore protected the people with his juftice, as he had subdued them by his arms; but being obliged, by the bad state of his health, to leave that kingdom, he left the administration in the hands of two very improper minifters; the one, whose name was Ormesby, was rigorous and cruel; the vther, called Cressingham, was avaricious and
Under such an administration little stability could be expected; and their injustice foon drove this distressed people into open rebellion. A few of those who had fled into the most inaccelfible mountains from the arms of Edward, took this opportunity to pour down and strike for freedom. They were headed by William Wallace, so celebrated in Scottish story, the younger son of a gentleman, who lived in the western part of the kingdom. He was a man of a gigantic ftature, incredible strength, and amazing intrepidity, eagerly delirous of independence, and possessed with the most disinterested spirit of patriotism. . To this man had resorted all those who were obnoxious to the English government, the proud, the bold, the criminal, and the ambitious. There, bred among dangers and hardships themselves, could not forbear admiring in their leader a degree of patience, under fatigue and famine, which they supposed beyond the power of human nature to endure; he soon, therefore, became the principal object of their affection and their esteem. His firit exploits were confined to petty ravages, and occafional attacks upon the English. As his forces encreased, his efforts became more formidable ; every day brought accounts of his great actions; his party was joined firft by the desperate, and then by the enterprizing; at last, all who loved their country came to take shelter under his pro
tection. Thus reinforced, he formed a plan of Surprizing Ormelby, the unworthy English minister, who resided at Scone ; but though this tyrant escaped the meditated irruption, yet his effects served to recompense the insurgents. From this time, the Scots began to grow too powerful for the English that were appointed to govern them; many of their principal barons joined the insurgents ; Sir Williain Douglas was among the foremost openly to avow his attachment; while Robert Bruce more secretly favoured and promote ed the cause. To oppose this unexpected insurrection, the earl Warrenne collected an army of forty thousand men in the north of England, and prepared to attack the Scots, who had by this time crofled the borders, and had begun to ravage the country.
He suddenly entered Annandale, and came up with the enemy at Irvine, where he surprized their forces, who, being inferior in number, capitulated, and promised to give hoftages for their future fidélity. Most of the nobility renewed their oaths, and joined the English army with relu&tance, waiting a more favourable occafion for vindicating their freedom. Wallace alone disdained submission ; but with his faithful followers, marched northwards, with a full intention to protract the hour of Navery as long as be couid. In the mean time the earl Warrenne advanced in the purfuit, and overtook him where he was advantageoufy posted in the neighbourhood of Stirling, on the other fide of the river Forth. The earl perceiving the favourable ground he had chofen, was for declining the engagement; but being pressed by Creflingham, a proud man, whose private revenge operated over his judgment, the old earl was at laft obliged to comply, and he passed over a part of his army to begin the attack.
Wallace allowing such numbers of the English to get over as he thought himself superior to, boldly advanced upon them before they were completely formed, and put them entirely to the rout. Part of them were pursued into the river that lay in the rear, and the rest were cut to pieces. Among the flain was Crefsingham himself, whose memory was so extremely odious to the Scotch, that they flayed his dead body, and made saddles of his skin. Warrenne retired with the remains of his army to Berwick, while his pursuers took such castles as were but ill provided for a fiege. Wallace returned into Scotland, after having thus, for a time, saved his country, laden with an immenfe plunder, with which he for a while dispelled the prospect of famine that seemed to threaten the nation.
Edward, who had been over in Flanders, while these misfortunes happened in England, haftened
back with impatience to restore his au
• thority, and secure his former conquests. 1297. As the discontents of the people were not as yet entirely appeared, he took every popuJar measure that he thought would give them fatisfaction. He restored to the citizens of London a power of electing their own magiftrates, of which they had been deprived in the latter part of his father's reign. He ordered ftrict enquiries to be made concerning the quantity of corn, which he had arbitrarily seized for the use of his armies, as if he intended to pay the value to the owners. Thus having appeared, if not satisfied, all complaints, he levied the whole force of his dominions; and at the head of an hundred thousand men, he directed his march to the North, fully resolved to take vengeance upon the Scots for their late defection.