THE EXECUTION OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
What is the value of a king to his country? Can it be
quantified in concrete terms such as money, or success in war,
or as a great benefactor or doer of deeds? The debate that
these questions inspire will never cease. So how does one
indicate how good or bad a king is for his country? Merely
reporting the facts and allowing the reader to decide may be
one way, but I believe it is essentially flawed. As
historians, we have a duty to portray events as clear and
unsullied with personal opinion as possible. However, we also
fail if we do not interpret these events to some degree
without altering the factual representation of events and
life. Coming full circle, one must examine the question
again, but perhaps from a different perspective.
Who was David II? Why was he seen by so many historians
over time as a failure at worst or a mediocrity at best? And
finally, what is his story? Answering these questions is the
real purpose of this work. Other scholars have written about
David II as if they knew all about him, including what must
have been the motivations for the things he did. They have
neglected or refused to examine the more obscure points of his
reign and the conclusions one may reach regarding them.
Over the intervening centuries since David II’s death,
those few scholars that wrote about him did so with an air of
disdain until the latter portion of this century. Two authors
other than myself have examined David II in detail and come to
conclusions that differ radically from most other authors on
the topic and offer a more accurate portrayal of David’s
reign. Bruce Webster, the editor of the compilation of
charters and letters specific to David II, in the Regesta
Regum Scottorum series, and Ranald Nicholson, author of
Scotland: The Later Middle Ages, both viewed the evidence
available and have brought David II’s reign to life, albeit
from different directions. Once again, what kind of king was
David II did not have a spectacular career, nor did he
have the best political situation within or outside Scotland
to help make his reign successful. He became king as a small
boy and almost immediately had to leave Scotland for exile
while he grew up and Scotland fell under the control of Edward
III and the pretender Edward Balliol. The brief period in the
early to mid 1340s when he returned and attempted to rule a
weakened and still divided land led to the disaster at
Neville’s Cross. After spending the next eleven years in and
out of Scotland, but mostly in prison, he returned to find
that while his actual power base may have dwindled while he
lay in prison. Other sources of as yet un-tapped potential
power lay open to him, sources of which he made very effective
Therefore, I maintain that instead of dwelling on the
periods of his reign over which he had little if any control,
one must examine most closely the period during which he had
control, from 1357 to his death in 1371, to determine
effectively what kind of king he made. One may argue that the
entire reign belongs to him, and that one must view it as a
whole to give an accurate picture. That may be somewhat true
of his reign, but not overly pertinent to David as king. One
must separate the events from the man to a certain extent.
For example, how can David II be blamed for the occupation of
lowland Scotland throughout the 1330s and early 134 0s? Simply
put, he cannot. Nevertheless an examination of both king and
kingship are possible from the material presented in this
paper. Let us examine first David II’s kingship.
David’s kingship divides itself neatly into several
sections: occupation, return, imprisonment, and rule. During
the occupation of much of Scotland by Edward III throughout
the latter half of the 1330s and very early 1340s, the Scots
continued the war begun by Robert the Bruce in 1306. They
fought this campaign from a slightly different perspective,
one fought almost entirely on their own soil with vast amounts
of territory occupied by the enemy. Edward Balliol arranged
to have himself crowned king in the power vacuum that he
created after the Scots’ military defeats at Dupplin Moor in
1332 and Halidon hill in 1333. After Halidon Hill, nine-year-
old David fled to France for safety and Balliol’s conquest
seemed assured of completion. David was not old enough to
have much of any say in the planning and execution of the war
of resistance, but he did have staunch supporters. Some acted
out of patriotism, such as Andrew Moray, while others acted
out of a sort of self-preservation like the young Robert the
The occupation had little to do with the king and more to
do with Edward Balliol the Pretender, Edward III king of
England, and the handful of Scottish patriots that did most of
the fighting for Scotland. How did the invasion itself take
place, and why? The answer revolves around the Disinherited
and Edward III.
After the English signed the Treaty of Northampton (1328)
and recognized the independence of Scotland, a rather large
and influential group of Anglo-Scottish lords lost their
Scottish inheritance. This group never ceased to complain to
Edward III about their condition. However very little could
actually be done until Edward III wrested power from his
mother-regent and took things into his own hands. France did
not yet have his attention, so he could afford to spend the
bulk of his efforts on subduing the Scots whom he felt had
humiliated the English and himself personally. The emergence
of an adult and vengeful Edward III, combined with the loss of
nearly all of the Scots’ respected, feared, and competent
leaders, created a condition that Edward III found much to his
liking and the Scots found untenable.
No doubt exists that Edward III plotted carefully the
events that led to the invasion of the Disinherited. From the
convenient death of Thomas Randolph due to poison, to the
likelihood of Donald of Mar, a known English sympathizer,
being selected to replace Randolph as Guardian, to the arrival
of the Disinherited and their army at the best of possible
times, the sequence of events followed too exact a timetable
to have been accidental. While some scholars suggest that
Edward III was surprised at these good turns of fortune, the
fact that he manipulated and engineered these events to his
best advantage is clearly undeniable given the information
presented in this work. He conveniently ignored his brother-
in-law and set Balliol up to take his place, also conveniently
ignoring that John Balliol had resigned all claim to the crown
of Scotland by 1296.
Repeated invasions, support of Balliol, and the
Disinheriteds’ cause enabled Edward III to demand a high price
for his help, one that gave him the key to a subdued
Scotland, 489 nearly all of the Lowlands. David II had very
little choice but to escape to France. Throughout the 1330s,
only words of encouragement for his faithful came from his
499 The key to subduing Scotland permanently lay in controlling the lowlands
in their entirety. From there, one could eventually dissolve resistance in
court in exile. He had no money with which to finance a
massive restorative effort; any resources came sparingly from
the French. While the Scots sat nearly leaderless, the
Lowlands were doomed to be mere possessions of the English.
However, when the great guerrilla leaders appeared and took
charge of the recovery effort, Scotland had hope and purpose.
Andrew Moray, John Randolph (heir to Thomas Randolph) ,
Alexander Ramsay, William Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale,
and later William Douglas, lord of Douglas (and eventually
earl of Douglas after 1357), all proved more than capable
leaders. They were ruthless when necessary and always chose
where and when to fight instead of allowing the English to
dictate time and place to them.
When David II returned from his exile in France in June,
1341, much of the groundwork for his return had been done by
not only the guerrilla leadership operating in his absence but
also by the change of attitude in Edward III. With his sights
set on France and Philip VI of France growing increasingly
bold and belligerent towards Edward’s idea of claiming the
French crown for himself, Edward III found less money and time
available to aid Balliol with Scotland. Investment in
holding his French territories would ultimately pay off much
better than Scotland; his lands in France were much more
the Highlands, much as the early Scottish kings did themselves when
attempting to hold a unified kingdom together.
extensive and provided a great deal more income. Holding a
Scotland that did not want to be held had become a very
difficult proposition, especially after the return of David
II. Time and money spent had much greater returns when spent
on France rather than Scotland. The Scots had little ability
to threaten seriously the borders of England. France
threatened not only Edward’s lands in Gascony, but also the
English coastal towns as well. In addition, the French had
considerable influence over the medieval Church while it
headquartered at Avignon.
As Edward III turned his attention to the more pressing
matters on the continent, David II returned and began re-
establishing authority throughout Scotland with the help of
his most stalwart followers. Even the Steward supported him
in this endeavor. No question of an heir for David II yet
plagued Robert since David was still quite young. Until 1346,
David rewarded those nobles that maintained a strict adherence
to the Bruce cause during the occupation. Some men who had
been lesser nobles and who had performed particularly well in
David II’s eyes received great rewards during the period.
Even at this stage of his career David recognized the
importance of securing troublesome areas, which is why he
elevated Malcolm Fleming, who had been the keeper of Dumbarton
castle for him during the occupation, to the rank of a new
earldom, that of Wigtown. Along with the earldom came the
task of quieting Galloway, perhaps the only area left where
Balliol the Pretender had any sway.
Throughout the five years David spent in Scotland, from
his return in 1341 to his capture in 1346, he continued to
reward his faithful that helped make it possible for Scotland
to be free once again. However, David did not possess the
authority he would wield after his return from captivity in
England. The irascible and unrepentant Knight of Liddesdale
felt secure enough in his position as premier guerrilla leader
of the Borders to march down and remove (and eventually let
starve to death in prison) Alexander Ramsay from a post in
Roxburgh awarded to Ramsay by David II himself.
While David II found the act unforgivable and ordered
Douglas’s immediate arrest, cooler heads prevailed upon David
to see that the Scots truly did need the Knight alive more
than dead or in jail. Eventually, David forgave and even
officially sanctioned Douglas’s act by handing the post over
to Douglas formerly. By 134 6 when David II marched into
northern England to cause what mayhem he could, Douglas
scouted the way. The Knight proved steadfast enough to stand
by David II as he was captured by the English. Sir William
even went to prison along with his king.
As the length of David’s absence increased, he lost
ever more influence with the nobility in Scotland. Balliol,
accompanied by the earl of Northumberland, attempted a brief
foray into Scotland but netted himself nothing, only
succeeding in recovering for Edward III some of the territory
Balliol had ceded to him in their agreement back in 1334. A
change had come over the political climate in Scotland as a
result of David II’s capture. Robert Steward now headed the
government, supposedly ruling in David II’s stead.
The record the Steward left behind of his accomplishments
was abysmal. He exercized almost no authority except in his
own lands. Any recovery of territory or resistance to the
English was achieved by other leaders, notably (the other)
William Douglas, lord of Douglas, 490 who took over his uncle’s
(the Knight of Liddesdale’s) position of guerrilla leader on
the Borders. Steward’s abandonment of David on the
battlefield at Neville’s Cross had negated whatever respect he
earned from previous efforts in behalf of the Crown. Central
authority during the period of his Lieutenancy was nearly non-
existent. Having to plead with the royal officials to behave,
or to turn in the appropriate financial accounts, phased him
not at all. His personal power on his own lands suffered
little, if any. Content to “lead” Scotland, Robert Steward
made little attempt to retrieve David II from captivity until
his own interests required it.
‘l9G The young Douglas had plenty of reason to fight since nearly all of his
lands lay in English hands. He also had reason to dislike the elder
Douglas since he spent much of his political power in the mid 134 0s
arranging for the control of some of the lands that belonged to the younger
David II could do little to help himself, considering his
current position. Even with numerous txips back to Scotland
throughout his imprisonment, only in 13 4 9 and 1351 do we find
no other corroborating evidence of Davi«d II actually being in
Scotland, if only for a short time.491 However, while these
trips allowed David some access to the machinery of his
government, they did not constitute a s~trong enough presence
there to counteract the Steward’s apparent incompetence.
David used the time allowed him to settJLe either rather
mundane issues or international issues “that only the king
could deal with.492
Gradual and growing frustration wi~th the lack of
cooperation of his nobility allowed Edward III to advance
several solutions to the problem of the ransom that he liked.
The major sticking point in the conditions was the appointing
of either Edward III or one of his sons as the heir to the
Scottish throne. 493 This one condition, even had it not been
vilified by Robert Steward, made any of the other conditions
so unpalatable that negotiations always broke down. Only
during periods when the French threatened the English did the
Douglas. The Knight even arranged for himself to succeed to all of the
Douglas estates should young William’s line fail.
491 In 1351, David was found in Newcastle, very close to the Scottish
‘,5~ The Scottish parliament was not powerful eno-ugh to treat solely for all
of Scotland when dealing with international issues.
^ Edward III made similar demands of the FrencZh at the time. Whether
Edward’s strategy was complex in that he actually expected success in
France and hoped for it in Scotland; or whether it was simplistic in that
Scots succeed in gaining any concessions. Even then, in 1354
when the Scots finally received favorable terms that had
nothing to do with the succession, the French undermined any
chance of success by encouraging the Scots to attack the
English, thereby eliminating that chance at recovering King
David. France could not have taken the chance that Edward III
would be allowed peace at home and be able to concentrate all
of his strength on the continent.
Only after John II of France fell into English hands and
the prospect of a much larger ransom than the comparatively
small amount demanded of the Scots became a reality did the
English allow David II to go free. Balliol had resigned his
claim, and Edward III knew that he might take portions of
Scotland but could not hold them, at least not hold them and
actually receive an income from them. Also, by agreeing to a
ransom arrangement, the English bound the Scots to a truce to
last until Edward III received his final payment. Border
conflict aside, which neither side truly considered a serious
enough violation of the truce to warrant a cancellation or
annulment of the ransom treaty, relative peace between the two
countries did indeed come to pass.
Most of the “nibbling away” at English controlled
Scotland had been accomplished prior to the ratification of
he merely asked the same of both countries he was currently bullying is the
topic for another work.
the first ransom treaty. Any further incursions, such as
David II’s advances into Annandale and Roxburgh, happened so
gradually, that Edward III must have considered them merely
the normal course of relations on the Border and the private
arrangements made for their administration to be largely a
local, not international, matter. It was well known that the
Borders were nearly a separate entity in and of themselves,
complete with their own customs and laws. To adjudicate
infractions by both the Scots and English in the Borders,
“March Days” were set up and attended by Wardens of the March
for both Scotland and England, who would then decide together
the outcome of the issues.494
“Intensive government,” a term used by Ranald Nicholson
in the title of one of his chapters on the reign of David II,
aptly describes David II’s reign after his final return.
David correctly determined throughout the eleven years he
spent in captivity that he could not trust his greater
nobility. Also, he had to develop quickly the means to
enforce his will upon the rest of Scotland or risk the same
type of lack of respect that faced Robert Steward when he
tried to govern. David was bound and determined not to prove
to be a “do-nothing” king. To accomplish this, he needed
494 Much more serious incursions across the borders began at the end of the
fourteen year long truce agreed upon in the last ransom treaty ratified in
allies. He found them in the church, burgesses, and lesser
When David returned from captivity he rewarded those that
did Scotland great service in his absence (such as the young
William Douglas, lord of Douglas, whom he then made first earl
of Douglas)and mollified certain great lords with rewards to
reassure them as to their position in his government (e.g.,
when David gave the Steward the earldom of Strathearne). He
also rewarded those (such as the abbeys, bishoprics, and
burgesses of Scotland – some of the wealthiest men, greatest
landowners and wielders of enormous political clout) who
immediately lent him political clout by merely accepting him
as their sovereign ruler.
After establishing himself as their ruler, David set
about building a government in earnest. In order to
accomplish his goals, he knew he could make broad sweeping
changes overnight, and so began the process of slowly
appointing men from the lesser nobility into key positions of
power, control and influence throughout the kingdom. For
example, David exercised his prerogative of choice in
establishing his own picked men in the very important
positions of keeper of Edinburgh, Dumbarton, and Stirling
castles, as well as sheriffs in key places throughout the
495 While previous Scottish kings used these same assets, David relied more
on them, and to greater effect, to successfully counter the ever-growing
kingdom such as Teviotdale, Roxburghshire, Edinburgh,
Aberdeenshire and so on. The men he chose made up a
relatively short list. They included Robert Erskine,
Archibald Douglas, John Herries, John Danielston, Walter
Haliburton, William Livingston, William Ramsay, John Preston,
and even the burgess Adam Torrie (whom he appointed Warden of
the Exchange for Scotland, basically responsible for
Scotland’s condition and supply of money). As the early years
passed, more and more often some or all of these men figured
in David’s councils in a larger role.
The most powerful nobles of the day – Robert Steward,
earl of Strathearne and heir to the throne; William Douglas,
earl of Douglas; and Patrick Dunbar, earl of March – found
little to their liking in this new arrangement. Other nobJ_es,
such as Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus, joined them in their:
feelings. By 1360, some of them, the earl of Angus in
particular, had had enough and arranged for Katherine
Mortimer, David II’s mistress at the time, to die on the road
to Soutra. This accomplished two things. First, it told
David II that he could either rule or be ruled by his
nobility. Second, that he could trust none of those great
nobles of the kingdom that had (finally) helped arrange ancE
provided support for his release from captivity.
power of the greater nobility.
David II’s response came in two parts. Initially, he
further cemented his power base by continuing to reward those
lesser noblemen that supported him with land and influence in
his councils as attested to by their continual presence in his
charter witness lists. Second, he arrested the earl of Angus
and made an example out of him. By 1362, the earl starved to
death (or died of plague), wasted away in much the same manner
the Knight of Liddesdale used on Alexander Ramsay nearly
twenty years prior.
However, the great lords viewed this threat to their
power only as an obstacle to overcome. One more event pushed
the Steward over the edge into action. David II decided to
remarry and make another attempt to produce his own heir.
When David II returned from prison in England with his
mistress in accompaniment, Queen Joan left for England,
ostensibly to pursue the arrangements of a final peace with
her brother Edward III. By 1362, she had died, of what the
chronicles do not definitively say but perhaps from a fresh
outbreak of the plague that circulated through the country at
that time. Within a year, David, free to marry again, chose
to marry Dame Margaret Logie, someone whose fertility had been
proven through the birth of a child in a previous marriage.
If the Steward wished to remain the heir to the throne, he
could not allow the marriage to take place. To ensure his
position as heir, the Steward formulated a plan.
Robert Steward arranged a rebellion with the earls of
Douglas and March to take place in the spring of 1363. Robert
stayed close to David II while Douglas and March prepared
their forces. David II discovered the plot and put his own
machinery to work, machinery that depended in no way upon the
benefices of the great lords. In short order, David crushed
the rebellion and forced the abject submission of the three
lords at his wedding in May 13 63. The Steward he allowed back
into his presence more quickly than either Douglas or March,
probably due to influence the Steward had in the Highlands.
David’s authority was not yet as secure in that area as it
would eventually become.
Internationally, the Scots failed to find that final
peace with England, preferably one that required little if any
money. Scotland had lapsed in its payments to the English and
by 1364 Edward III started to take exception. To make matters
worse, the death of King John II of France removed the
likelihood that Edward III would be collecting any ransom for
him. Pressure once again fell upon the Scots to assume the
financial burden alone. They needed a new treaty quickly.
Ten thousand marks annually amounted to more than the Scots
could comfortably produce, and resulted in the cessation of
the installments all together. By the 1365 Edward III and
David II concluded a new treaty, one more burdensome in the
long term to the Scots. All previous payments were ignored.
The total ransom, while only necessary to pay in amounts of
six thousand marks annually, was increased to £100,000.
French ransom money for a dead king became permanently
elusive, a fact the Scots felt most keenly.
To meet this increased fiscal burden, David took action.
He required a survey of the kingdom’s wealth, known as the
Verus Valor, to compare against the last survey known as the
Antiquatio Taxatio. Customs on exported wool were raised
again, to four times their original level in 1357. And
parliament authorized yet another revocation of royal assets
(which included lands rents and fees) so that David might
maintain himself without any additional monetary requirements
from his people. The last step David took involved devaluing
the currency, thereby increasing the amount of money produced
from a fixed amount of silver. While the difference in value
between the English and Scottish pound remained small for the
moment, after David’s death Robert II (Robert the Steward)
followed David’s example and devalued the currency several-
For four years David paid under those terms while
continually pushing for a new treaty, which he arranged in
1369. The payments dropped to four thousand marks annually to
be paid over fourteen years. All previous payments made were
applied to the original sum of one hundred thousand marks.
Both sides agreed to a truce for the remaining fourteen years
left in the payment schedule, guaranteeing relative peace
between the two countries until the early 1380s. Through
intense diplomatic negotiations as well as a bit of luck,
David managed to finally end the ransom question on terms fair
to everyone, with the side benefit of making his kingdom
financially sound. In the fourteen years he ruled after his
return from captivity, he increased the kingdom’s receipts by
approximately sixty percent. That combined with the fact that
the ransom payment amounted to much less than the annual
receipts provided fiscal strength for the King of Scots.
David broke new ground in other areas as well. His use
of lesser noblemen for his personal power base is slightly
reminiscent of the Holy Roman Emperor’s use of ministeriales
in previous centuries, and may in fact have been developed
from his exposure to Edward III using a similar practice in
England. He gathered close to him those he could trust, not
the greater nobility. Perhaps the basic groundwork for the
idea began when he returned from exile in France, though with
In 1342, David II rewarded one of his faithful, one
Malcolm Fleming, with the newly created earldom of Wigtown
49° So much so that by the 1380s, England would only accept Scottish coinage
at a rate of two to one even though Robert had not actually devalued his
located in south central Galloway along the coast, most
certainly to help erode what power his enemies had there.
Galloway as it turned out became a central theme in David’s
firmly establishing his authority. At that time, in the mid
134 0s, the Balliol name still counted for something. Another
family, the Comyns who were old enemies of the Bruce family
back before the days of even his father Robert Bruce, also had
some influence in the area. Unfortunately, Fleming did not
prove up to the task. Aside from being captured along with
David II at Neville’s Cross, the Galwegians proved too
troublesome for the earl of Wigtown. Eventually, he returned
the earldom to David II after David’s return from captivity.
The problem remained the same however and did not end
with Galloway. Five geographical areas in Scotland
corresponded to established bases of power: the Highlands,
the Lowlands, Galloway, the Borders, and the Isles.49’ Robert
Steward and his allies498 dominated the Highlands and had
several areas of influence throughout the Lowlands. Patrick
Dunbar, the earl of March, and William Douglas dominated the
Border region. John of Lome and John of the Isles dominated
the Isles along with the Campbells. Balliol and what was left
currency quite that much.
“S1 The nobles that had established themselves caused comparatively little
trouble and for the most part chose to separate themselves from the rest of
Scottish governmental ties. This is what brought David II to march
eventually on the Lord of the Isles with troops in 13 69 to demand, and
receive, his submission.
of the Comyn clan had influence in Galloway. The Lowlands
were a mixed bag indeed with many people having pockets of
influence scattered throughout.
David II had royal lands everywhere throughout the
kingdom, enough to keep an eye on his neighbors but none close
enough together to dominate an entire region. He had royal
castles scattered in key positions throughout the kingdom that
mainly controlled access to important cities and other points
of access. Places like Stirling, Edinburgh, and Dumbarton
imposed his presence pointedly even when his neighbors
controlled the countryside. After his return from England in
1357, David embarked on a new plan for re-asserting his
authority throughout Scotland.
The greatest allies the king could hope for were men who
had nothing to lose and everything to gain by following him.
That description fit the lesser nobility and burgesses (or
common folk as the great lords saw them) exactly. Great lords
like the earls of Angus, March, Mar, Lennox, and others saw
little benefit from consorting too much with these classes,
just the opposite to them appeared true; by using them too
frequently one’s own power might diminish. David used them to
great effect. Perhaps his greatest achievements rested in two
men : Sir Archibald Douglas and Sir Robert Erskine.
-’98 Erstwhile allies at best, John of Lome, Gillespie Campbell and John of
the Isles (Lord of the Isles).
Both men frequently appeared in David’s charters.
Erskine became David’s chamberlain shortly after his return
from captivity and so was nearly always present at the
witnessing of any charter since he almost never left the
king’s side. David established Douglas more slowly, but in
the end far more effectively for the purposes of projecting
his influence. During the rebellion of 13 63, both men proved
invaluable. By that time, Erskine had received the greater
portion of the territorial rewards David handed out. Douglas
contented himself with assuming the positions of sheriff of
certain Lowland shires and Keeper of Edinburgh castle. These
positions put the two men (along with others from among
David’s list of chosen favorites) in key positions to aid
David should the need arise as it did in 1363.
As a result of the rebellion, Erskine further increased
his holdings in Lowland Scotland and Douglas found himself
inserted into the Border region as the Warden of the West
March. David knew he could count on this Douglas for two
reasons. First, Archibald’s father, the “Good Sir James”
Douglas (Robert Bruce’s Lieutenant) left no landed provision
for his natural son, Archibald, although some monetary
resources were probably at his disposal. We know almost
nothing about his childhood, though it is possible that he
grew up with David II in exile in France. He must have had
some access to money, since he escaped capture at Poitiers in
135 6 only by a subterfuge committed by William Ramsay, who
treated him as if he were a servant that had stolen his
master’s armor.499 Second, should Archibald betray David and
join the camp of his cousin, the earl of Douglas, he would
likely have lost everything, not having the influence his
cousin had. Erskine found himself in roughly the same
By 1369, however, Douglas eclipsed Erskine in influence.
David established him in Galloway with all royal lands between
the Nith and the Cree rivers, despite the second act of
revocation issued by parliament. Shortly thereafter,
Archibald gained all the lands of the earldom of Wigtown
without the title. By David’s death, Archibald Douglas was
Lord of Galloway and the Warden of the West March. David II
had neatly inserted him into two areas that represented
trouble for David and lacked a strong royal presence, the
Borders and Galloway. Pacifying Galloway permanently did not
happen overnight. In fact, it took several years of Robert
II’s reign before Douglas accomplished completely the
“9S Froissart indicates that the only reason Ramsay did this was to spare
Archibald’s benefactors the cost of his ransom once the English determined
whom they had caught.
50l Note that this theory assumes the worst, that Erskine and Douglas would
have betrayed him if they had the chance. However, I do not believe this
is true. Both men spent the rest of their lives loyal to the Crown,
whoever happened to be wearing it at the time. Perhaps it was not so much
David that they were loyal to, but the institution of the kingship itself.
Nevertheless, the result was the same.
David II did something that none of his contemporary
Scots expected; he ignored the power of the greater nobility
and made his own allies where and when it suited him. He used
his advantage in this area to great effect, and in fact public
opinion of him appeared to be higher than the public’s opinion
of the nobles in question. Bringing the great earls to heel
did nothing but increase his power at home amongst his
When David forced William, earl of Mar, to resign his
lands to the crown, only to receive them back from the crown
under condition of a tailzie leaving it to one not of Mar’s
line, one may truly see the extent of the king’s control over
the nobility. Even the submission of John of the Isles in
1369 or the temporary imprisonment of Robert the Steward and
his sons in 1370 did not result in such a far reaching command
from the king.501 David proved several things to his nobles :
one must submit to his wishes or face reprisals, no one was
safe from his scrutiny, and one’s loyalty would be rewarded.
Finally, one must discuss the relationship David
maintained with his subjects. With his loyal followers, the
Church and burgesses, David II had showed fairness, though,
and a certain amount of favoritism. With his greater
nobility, namely the earls of the kingdom, he showed wariness
They did not have to resign their lands and receive them back from them
king only to find that their heir had been designated for them.
and caution. Perhaps the relationship that caused the most
strife throughout his reign was the one with Robert the
Steward and his sons. Robert had never been much of a man of
action. His comparatively weak, effort during the 1330s to
restore David Bruce to power merely began his lackluster
career. After David’s capture, one may see two things about
Robert. First, his manner was better suited to self-
preservation than the Lieutenancy of Scotland as seen by the
method by which he governed during David’s absence. Second,
Robert had no desire to lose his position as heir to the
He rebelled in 1363 supposedly to end evil council of
David II by lesser men, which no doubt played some part, but
also to try to stop the impending marriage of David II to Dame
Margaret Logie. As Queen Joan was approximately eight years
older than David II, her age upon his release from prison put
her over forty years of age, past her prime child bearing
years and possibly even post-menopausal. This meant there was
very little threat to Robert’s status as heir. By 1360
David’s mistress Katherine Mortimer had been murdered,
supposedly at the command of Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus,
who ultimately paid for his crime. After David made Stewart
submit in public at his wedding to Margaret Logie in May 13 63,
Robert had little choice but to wait and see what resulted.
By the end of the 1360s it became apparent to David II
that his new queen would not bare him the child he desired, so
he divorced her and immediately made arrangements to marry
another, one Agnes Dunbar. Sometime during the fall of 137 0,
the Steward did something to offend the new prospective queen.
David threw him and his sons in jail for a short time
undoubtedly to remind Robert exactly who was king. In the
meantime, David made arrangements for Agnes coming wedding
present which consisted of a large annual cash payment, larger
by far than would have been offered to anyone that were not
meant to be queen. In January 1371, David II announced his
intentions to wed young Agnes. By the end of February, David
II lay dead and buried and Scotland had a new king in Robert
II (the Steward) .
No chronicle mentions the reason for David’s death, nor
did he appear to be suffering from any illness. It seems very
coincidental that shortly after David formally announced his
pending marriage to Agnes Dunbar that he should die, and die
mysteriously, merely a middle-aged forty-seven year old. Even
more interesting is the fact that David II’s most staunch
supporter, Archibald Douglas, shortly after David’s death was
paid five hundred marks and sent to France for diplomatic
discussions that kept him in France for quite some time and
accomplished nothing. 502 David’s death leaves unanswered
questions, perhaps truly unanswerable. Certainly no known
document implicates the Steward in David’s death.
Nevertheless, the circumstantial evidence appears compelling.
Did Robert the Steward engineer David II’s death? In my
opinion, he was certainly capable of it.503
David II led Scotland through a time of misfortune, both
of his own creation (as at Neville’s Cross) and his enemies
instigation (such as the occupation of the 1330s). One cannot
blame the man or the king for the failure to govern what could
not be governed, one must look at his accomplishments after he
began to rule in earnest.
After 1357, David finally had the chance to rule, even
though ruling Scotland included dealing with the issue of the
ransom and the continued slow recovery of territory still held
See the exchequer rolls for dates and amount paid.
5u3 Robert certainly had the motive to have David II murdered. Robert’s
concerns appear to be two-fold. First and foremost is his succession to
the Scottish crown one way or another. Second was the growth in power of
his family. He accomplished the latter largely during the years of David
II’s absence and continued to attempt to increase the family’s influence
after David’s return. The former proved more difficult. By the time David
returned from captivity, his wife was certainly past her prime childbearing
years. There was little danger of an heir from her. Dame Logie, however,
who had already proved fertile was another story. Unfortunately we do not
know her age when David married her, but one must assume she had some
prospect of bearing a child. However, if she was simply too old to have
children, then a young Agnes Dunbar, almost certainly fertile, would have
been more than enough to make Robert’s ambitions for the crown fall apart.
Apparently with each marriage, David learned from his mistakes, choosing a
younger wife each time in the hopes of finally producing an heir.
Treachery ending in eliminating a rival was certainly not beyond Robert, as
his performance at Neville’s Cross and the lackluster manner in which he
negotiated for his king’s release can attest. The Steward even managed to
remove most of the stain of rebellion from his hands after the 1363 affair
with Douglas and March. The Steward had motive, means and opportunity.
by a few English lords. His people supported him, suffering
no general uprising while he ruled. The one attempt at
organized rebellion he crushed out of hand before it really
got started, and he showed his magnanimity by forgiving rather
than eliminating the conspirators. He introduced strong
government to Scotland precisely when it was needed and
unwittingly set some basic groundwork for the absolutism
practiced by the later Stewart monarchs, even though the next
two Stewart kings failed to take advantage of his efforts. As
a warrior, he showed himself to be initially unlucky and
somewhat rash (resulting in his capture), but eventually cool
and calculating as demonstrated by the recovery of most of the
borders by his death in 1371. Finally, he surveyed Scotland
and reorganized its fiscal affairs, changing it from a totally
impoverished nation that could barely afford to operate its
government to a financially sound one. At his death, despite
the ravages of two occurrences of the Plague and of the long
standing war with England, David II left a strong, safe, and
stable nation. Perhaps Wynton’s epitaph at David II’s death
does indeed do him justice:
The fertility of the land obeyed his wishes;
So too the useful element of the sea…;
Savagery has disappeared, imperial law has
Honesty has increased, there is general quiet in the
He has cultivated the prelates of the clergy by
treating them with respect,
and has desired the magnates to come to his side
with their power;
he made a statute that burgesses could exchange
their goods with his permission,
and he made it his business to keep the people
visibly in obedience to the law.
He is highly regarded by the English, and revered
for his strength,
he is regarded as truthful, and blessed for his
…May he rest amid the rejoicing of his native
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
As John Coupland led David away into captivity after the
Battle of Neville’s Cross in the fall of 1346, the Steward,
David II’s heir, effectively stood by and watched it happen.
From that point on, the relationship the nobility had with the
king affected not only the king’s treatment of the nobles, but
also the relationship the Scots developed in the succeeding
years with the English. So much revolved around this
relationship that it at times effectively masked the
accomplishments of David’s reign. Many scholars and
chroniclers, from the writer of the Lanercost Chronicle down
to the present day including E. W. F. Balfour-Melville (a
Scottish historian writing in the 1950s) 421 and G. W. S. Barrow
(currently active), saw David not only as a weak king, but
also as ineffective in dealing with the problems that faced
The issues most important to the reign of David II are
three. Frequently the first issue discussed concerns his
ransom and the arrangements made to its repayment. 422 This
topic, and Scotland’s role (or lack of it) in the Hundred
Years War, revolve around the heart of Scoto-English relations
421 Both of these men were and are practically giants in the field of
~”2 It is not my intention to discuss what was precisely paid, how and when,
but to focus instead on the arrangements themselves and whether or not
during the mid-fourteenth century. Second, and only
infrequently discussed, is the style of David’s government and
relationship witli his nobles during his absence and after his
return. Last is actually a subset of David’s relationship
with the nobility; the rebellion perpetrated by the Steward
and his allies, including its causes and effects later in
One may briefly look at these issues and see their
importance to the period. To be sure, the issue that existed
the longest concerned David and his relationship with the
nobility. Because of the fractious circumstances of his early
kingship, including David spending the formative years of his
life at Chateau Gaillard in France, the situation Robert I
(David’s father and predecessor) enjoyed with his nobility
lasted only so long as David remained in the country. Once he
moved his court to France for safety, other men, men of
action, led the Scots through the darkest years of the
fourteenth centuxy. These circumstances set up a unique
situation in Scottish history, one that had not occurred
before, and resulted in a change in government that ultimately
led to the establishment of the Scottish equivalent of a
Divine Right kingship, though not for many years to come.
payments had been made, not necessarily the time and place and
circumstances of the payment.
The ransom and the negotiations surrounding David’ s
release were initially exceedingly important with respect to
foreign affairs. However, by David’s death, it becomes clear
indeed that more impact was felt on domestic policies than on
foreign policy. Indeed, by 1370, foreign relations amounted
to little more than border relations between Scotland and
England, with France occasionally voicing its support of
Scotland and its desire to continue in some fashion the “Auld
Alliance” with the Scots.
Rebellion, or more appropriately “uprising” was no
stranger to Scotland and did not cease to be so after David’s
death. However, the rebellion of 1363 contained several
unique characteristics that many others lacked. First, the
prime element appeared to be the Steward, the king’s heir.
Second, with the exception of the earls of Douglas and March,
the extent of the Steward’s power rested mainly in the west
and the isles. Third, the west and the isles played little if
any role in the actual rebellion, including the men of the
Steward himself. Fourth, resistance to David’s rule did not
end with the submission of the offending parties; it merely
slept, apparently powerless against the growing power of the
These issues not only taint David II’s reign, but also
define it. For example, the issue of the ransom reached
nearly all areas of Scottish politics and policies, from
domestic to foreign, from trade to fiscal. One must examine
these issues closely to gain an accurate picture of David II’s
influence over those he governed, and their influence over
him. Therefore, let us step back and study the issue of the
ransom first, for by looking at the ransom, other issues will
become more clear when in turn they are inspected.
By the end of October, 134 6, Scotland found itself in the
midst of profound changes. The king they so recently welcomed
back home followed behind the toothless John Coupland to an
English prison. 423 Robert Steward and the earl of March,
Patrick Dunbar, led their troops back home after abandoning
David on the field of battle. Considering all that later, and
indeed previously, befell the Steward, one may conjecture that
he was not altogether unhappy about the capture of his uncle
and king. Edward III had no intention of letting his prizes
go without gaining the maximum amount of benefit from them he
could. He had several outstanding issues.
First and foremost, Edward III had a far more lucrative
and important war to fight with France. French lands
represented a significant increase in income as opposed to the
land to the north in Scotland. They were also much more
conveniently located should he decide to project his power and
,22 Initially, David was taken to Bamburgh with many other prisoners until
arrangements could be made for their transport into more secure quarters
elsewhere in England. David had to remain at Bamburgh under the care of
Lord Percy for some time until his wounds from the battle healed. He
reputedly took an arrow in the face. See Knighton. Pp. 72-73..
influence elsewhere on the continent. Second, his war with
France continued to cost him great sums of money, money which
he did not have. The windfall of ransom from his Scottish
prisoners had the potential of going a long way to paying off
those expenses. Third, his candidate for the Scottish throne,
Edward Balliol, looked to have a real chance at regaining
control of the kingdom with David and a large number of the
Scots nobility out of the picture. With Balliol in charge,
Edward III was guaranteed not only a calm border to his north,
but allies when he needed them, and most of lowland Scotland,
as granted to him by Balliol in 1334 at Roxburgh.
So the ransom of David II and his nobles became of
paramount importance, at least initially, to Edward III.
However, holding David II also served his purpose, since he
had his own candidate for the Scottish throne, Edward Balliol
(the Pretender). No real discussion of the size of the ransom
began in earnest until after the summer of 1347.
Coincidentally, the initial amounts may have been based off
the price the Scots paid to procure a truce with Balliol as he
attempted to take advantage of the disadvantaged Scots in the
spring and summer of 1347.
Balliol entered Scotland with nearly three thousand three
hundred sixty troops, 424 while Lord Percy came from Berwick
with a smaller force. 425 As he approached the Firth of Forth,
the Scots desired to end his depredations and purchased a
truce for nine thousand pounds. As Balliol headed off to
Galloway, Percy and the English departed for France to join
Edward III at Calais. 426 Other than David II being marched off
into captivity at the end of the battle of Neville’s Cross to
heal his wounds at Bamburgh Castle, no further mention is made
of him or his location by the chronicler’s that recorded the
event. To discuss most accurately the issue of the ransom,
one must first discuss the actually physical location of the
King of Scotland, which until this time has not been in
Up until now, scholars studying this issue agreed that
David sat in an English jail, not wanting for much but also
closely guarded. 427 The two authors most familiar with his
imprisonment, Balfour-Melville and Nicholson, offer similar
ideas and accounts of David II’s confinement. In short, David
sat in one of several sites for his incarceration, and
traveled back to Scotland twice during his eleven years of
4^4 Rotuli Scotiae. vol. 1. pp. 691-692.; Nicholson, p. 148. Knighton
quotes his figures of Balliol’s invasion force at 300,000, which hardly
4^5 Knighton, pp. 7 6-79.
s26 Knighton, pp. 7 6-7 9.; Wyntoun, vol. 6, pp. 188-189.
4*7 See *Papers relating to the Captivity and Release of David II’, ed.
E.W.M. Balfour-Melville. S.H.S. Misc. IX, pp. 1-56.
captivity to attempt to more quickly effect his release.
While the terms of the agreements can not be disputed, the
view that David spent nearly his entire captivity in England I
have already shown to be worth further consideration. Quite
clearly, David is found issuing charters and letters at
various places in Scotland while he was supposedly serving his
time in England (see chapter 5). However, Bruce Webster, in
discussing the charters at the beginning of his volume of
David II’ s acts, makes no mention as to the irregularity of
the place names of letters and charters during David7s
The first instance, at Finavon in December 134 6, most
certainly occurred prior to his transport deeper into England
for permanent holding. One explanation for the listed
location in the letters and charters could be that they were
the locations where the documents were received from the king.
However, this appears highly unlikely. A continuation of that
pattern certainly did not occur after David returned.
Therefore, I must discount that explanation as not valid. It
is possible the documents were incorrectly copied, but then
one would have to discount the accuracy of all but the
original documents themselves (although one can cast
aspersions upon the accuracy of originals also—but these
“2e Webster, pp. 1-52.
doubts approach the absurd). Moreover the formulaic manner of
the charters argues against inaccurate copies.
Perhaps the best argument rests in the claim that David
did not issue the documents at all, that they came from his
council instead. However, the Steward did not shrink from
attaching his name to any documents when he issued them in
later years during David’s absence. Also, at least two of
these instances can be corroborated by documents concerning
safe conducts from England to Scotland and Edward Ill’s secret
plans for the Scottish succession.429 Certainly a more
detailed inspection must be performed should additional
documents establishing David’s location be found. However,
until that time, one must consider the fact that David may
indeed have been in Scotland on several occasions not noticed
by historians utilizing the currently known documents relevant
to the topic.
If David II were in Scotland during the time periods I
have indicated in this work, what effect did he have on the
situation in Scotland at the time, and why was he there?
Judging from the documents he issued, the business he engaged
in appears to be nothing more than the common undertakings of
a king and his government. The scarcity of these documents
1,29 Bain, vol. 3, p. 285, 287.
may indicate that either few survive today430 or that David
issued relatively few on these trips. Strictly speaking, the
Steward maintained control unless David actually attended a
parliament in person. Even then, his position is one much
like a supplicant rather than a king commanding his people.
In reality, David had little effect on the situation at home
in Scotland whether he went there or not. Everyone knew the
king would not be returned quickly. For that reason, the
Steward held the majority of the real power during these
periods. Why was David II there? Undoubtedly to encourage
those things necessary to expedite his release.
Ostensibly the control of the kingdom lay with the
Steward while David served out his term of imprisonment.
David II issued no documents during a council during any of
the instances he was in Scotland during times that have not
been corroborated by other documents. However, in Webster’s
introduction to the Regesta, he cites a list of petitions to
the Papacy on behalf of David II.431 On the list of petitions,
there exist instances when David II and his Queen, Joan
(Edward Ill’s sister), or simply David II himself, sent
petitions to the papacy dated within a few months, either
before or after one of the alleged visits.
“,j0 Most; probable since we have this problem during the fourteenth century
431 Webster, pp. 43-48
Certainly the petitions sent by David II could have been
sent from anywhere. The petitions that include Queen Joan as
one of the petitioners, however, may indicate further support
for David II being in Scotland during these periods and not in
the Tower of London. Unfortunately, until Scottish historians
explore this topic further, an accurate consensus appears
beyond present scholarship. David certainly did not live in
the squalor of a Tower dungeon chained to a wall like some
common criminal. He received a daily stipend of thirteen
shillings four pence, received new clothing and fabric from
which it would be made, arranged by his captures. 432 He also
had access to not only his personal chaplain, Richard de
Gretham (in 1352), but a confessor in Friar Adam of Lanark
(1356), a secretary in Robert Dunbretan, a valet in one Hector
Leche, and a mistress in one Katherine Mortimer. 433 Considering
the location of David II can no longer be ascertained with
certainty, current views of how royal and noble prisoners are
held during ransom negotiations should be revisited.
The subject of the ransom and the negotiations for it
pervade any discussion on the success of David II’s kingship.
Ironically, the subject he had the least control over
43^ Frederick Devon, Issues if the Exchequer: Henry III to Henry VI
Inclusive, (London: John Murray, 50, Albemarle Street, 1837), pp. 157,
163.; Bain, vol. 3, p. 293.
“32 Bain, vol. 3, p. 293.; There are no sources that indicate David has a
mistress during his captivity. However, when David returns to Scotland,
Wynton indicates that Queen Joan left due to David’s mistress as mentioned
determines his apparent efficiency as a king. Even so, one
must look at the negotiations as an integral part of his
kingship as they reveal David’s grasp on the current politics
both within and without Scotland. For the sake of efficiency,
I have divided David/s captivity into three parts. First from
capture to the first attempt at negotiations to the failed
efforts of 1352 involving William Douglas, the Knight of
Liddesdale, second from that point until his eventual release
in 1357, and third from his release until the final agreement
arranged with Edward III shortly before David II’s death.
The initial efforts at releasing David came not from the
Scottish government, which Robert Steward ran in David’ s
absence, but rather from Edward III and David II. Edward III
remained true to his character in that he cared little about
the dictates of parliament unless money for his war with
France was affected, and even then he engaged in secret
negotiations to suit his own purposes.434
Edward considered the likelihood of a relatively quick
settlement a possibility. Balliol worked through 1347 to re-
acquire some portions of Scotland with the help of the
English, which in and of itself gave Edward III more
bargaining power with David II and the Scots nobility. By
previously in this work. It is unlikely that he procured his mistress on
the trip north back home to Scotland.
C. Johnston. “Negotiations for the Ransom of David Bruce in 134 9,” in
The English Historical Review, ed. by G. N. Clark,. vol. xxxvi. (New York:
Longmans, Green and Co., 1921), pp. 57-58.
this time, everyone knew that the Scots would never settle for
Balliol as their king. Even Balliol probably understood
this.435 What Edward III stood to gain by dealing with David
II far outweighed what he had already received from Balliol
during the previous fifteen years. However, Balliol
apparently had had enough of the machinations of Edward III as
his reluctance to aid the English king in his negotiations
indicates.436 Perhaps Balliol found some progress in his
attempts to win the Scots during his campaigns of 1347, or
perhaps, like his father John, he could not simply sit idly by
and give away everything he had bargained for thus far.
Whatever the reason, Balliol ended any hope of progress on an
early release for David II.
The reason the treaty took so long to resolve had to do
not only with economics, but also with acquisition and
security. Edward III held out until the last possible moment
(figuratively) with hopes of gaining through negotiation and
guile what he failed to acquire through force (and guile).
Edward Ill’s primary objective was to pacify his northern
border, preferably permanently. Acceptable methods to the
English became stumbling blocks to the Scots, no matter what
David II desired. David II’s main goal throughout his years
435– The proof lies in the fact that Balliol had trouble holding what he had
retaken, that their was no mass conciliatory effort by the Scots to curry
Balliol’s favor, and that Balliol had a difficult time even operating in
safety in areas that he ostensibly held sway (namely Galloway).
436 Johnston, pp. 57-58.
of imprisonment was his release and return to the governance
Balliol’s goal can only be guessed at. He attempted
little in the way of conciliation to the Scots nobility and
courted practically no nobleman’s favor. What BallioZL
appeared to do best was only occasionally make a show of being
active in Scotland as an extension of Edward Ill’s indentions
there. Outside of the campaign of 1347,437 Balliol showed
little success or ambition in holding or recovering “5iis”
Scotland and rather more success in arranging pardons for his
hunting companions found poaching on the king of England’s
Nevertheless, early negotiations for David II’s ^release
revolved less around money and more around concessions in the
way of control over Scotland. One finds corroboration of this
in a petition sent by David II to Pope Clement VI:
This petition, which was dealt with in Avignon on 7
August 1350, began by recalling to the pope’s nottice
the adverse fortune that had befallen David and Siis
fellow prisoners. The pope was asked to afford Bielp
and counsel, and to write to the King of France
The last, truly concerted effort to return to England what the v believed
rightfully theirs was only partially successful. While much of lowland
Scotland now paid homage to Edward III once again, the English 1 acked the
strong-points of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dunbar castles, without which any
permanent occupation of lowland Scotland would prove to be at best
extremely problematic and at worst, impossible. Those four cast les
controlled the passage from northern Scotland into southern lowl and
Scotland. While the border territories of Roxburgh, Jedburgh an_d the like
were key to holding the borders and gaining access to Scotland f rom
England, they did nothing to prevent the Scots from operating from safety
and with relative impunity against the English from central and northern
“3e Bain, vol. 3, pp. 495-496.
urging that the release of David and his fellow
captives should be made a condition of any peace or
long truce between the French and the English. Then
without any explanatory preamble, David volunteered
information on the terms that Edward III was alleged
to be demanding – homage, military service against
the French, attendance at English parliaments, the
restoration of the Disinherited, recognition of the
King of England as David’s heir if the latter should
die childless, custody of Scottish castles as surety
for fulfillment of these terms. David gave no
indication whatever that he was ready to accept any
of these demands, nor did he commit himself to
rejecting them. The real nature of the appeal of
1350 was an attempt to put pressure on the French
king to take action for David’s release. Clement
duly ordered that ^opportune letters’ should be
directed to the King of France – but to no avail.439
Another individual that figured highly in the early
demands for ransom was William Douglas, the Knight of
Liddesdale and the best guerilla fighter Scotland had during
the middle of the fourteenth century. Douglas, as I have
shown previously, certainly did not run from a fight or give
up a claim to something he felt rightfully belong to him.440
Indeed, the English parliament feared him enough to include
him in their list of individuals, along with David II, who
should not be set free for any reason.441 Edward III thought
enough of him and his power on the borders to include him in
“3′ Nicholson, p. 157.; E. W. M. Balfour-Melville, “David II’s Appeal to the
Pope” in The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 41., no. 131. April 1962.
(Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1962), p. 86.; Balfour-Melville
printed the relevant portion of the passage and the reason for the
mistranslation that has led other scholars to reach the conclusion that he
was all too willing an accomplice of Edward Ill’s in the matter of the
succession. He also cites other examples of mistranslation in the Calendar
of Papal Registers.
This can be seen most clearly in his machinations for the valley of
Liddesdale and his abduction and subsequent murder of Alexander Ramsay, in
spite of David II’s quite specific support of Ramsay at the time.
the discussions with David II when negotiating terms for
David’s release. William Douglas so desired to be free of his
English prison and carried such influence back in Scotland (so
Edward III thought) that he became an important player in
Edward III granted a safe conduct for William Douglas
after being careful to exact promises of cooperation from him
and retaining a bond of five hundred marks against his
behavior from Sirs Walter Haliburton and David Anand.442
Douglas set off to Scotland to discuss with the Scots the
terms of David’s release and did so quickly as he had to
return before February 9, 1351 . 443 The conditions of David’s
release were at the same time generous and harsh. Edward III
had no problem allowing David II to return to Scotland
(thereby totally selling out Edward Balliol) in exchange for
payment in installments of the relatively small sum of forty
thousand pounds. Edward even promised to relinquish “the
Scottish castles and territories that he controlled.”444 David
and the Scots had only to agree to one small item: should
David die childless, the throne of Scotland would go to one of
Edward Ill’s younger sons.445
4” Johnston, pp. 57-58.; Nicholson, p. 156.
Bain, vol. 3, p. 283.
4’3 Rotuli Scotiae, vol. 1, pp. 737-738.
4^ Nicholson, p. 157.
443 Balfour-Melville, S.H.S. Miscellany IX, p 37.
Of all of the conditions that Edward III put forth
throughout the nearly twenty years of negotiations for David’s
ransom, the latter reason proved too bitter a pill to swallow
for the Scots. Never would an Englishman sit on the Scottish
throne, especially when the events of the first half of the
century rested so clearly in the mind of the Scottish
nobility. Robert Steward, at the time the most powerful noble
in Scotland and heir to the throne, certainly had no desire to
see his chance of kingship given away to an Englishman or
anyone else for that matter.
It stands to reason that Edward III had a reason for
offering such generous terms to the Scots. Certainly forty
thousand pounds did not seem like a fortune compared to the
ransom of over six hundred thousand pounds that Edward would
ask for the King of France (John) when he fell into English
hands at the Battle of Poitier in 1356. At first glance the
proposal held out much that David found attractive; a modest
ransom, the return of all English-held lands without one drop
of blood spilled, and the removal of the Steward from the line
of succession, permanently.446
Two things about the demand for an English succession by
Edward III made the chances of its acceptance tenuous at best.
First, it seems likely that Edward III knew or strongly
suspected something about David’s fertility that David did
not. Why would he continue to seemingly set the bulk of his
hopes on this one issue for only a chance of success?447 David
spent the rest of his reign in a vain attempt to find someone
that could beget his child and thus provide him with an heir.
Second, the Steward remained in Scotland while David sat in an
English jail. In Scotland at the time, Robert Steward held
the most personal power and had no desire to see his status as
heir to the crown revoked. He therefore had little reason to
arrange for David’s release, nor did he desire David to
replace him with his own heir, much less an English one.
When David II himself came to Scotland to attempt his own
arrangements for release, parliament responded “with one
voice” that they in no way desired to be subject to an English
king.448 However, the issue did not die there. David, along
with Douglas, remained in the north to see what support they
might have for a less amicable settlement (meant to include
“4C After the performance of the Steward at the Battle of Neville’s Cross
where David was captured, David had little love for his nephew as events
after his return from captivity show.
The concessions that Edward proposed initially all for the chance of
having one of his sons succeed to the Scottish throne were extraordinarily
generous. Certainly the Scots could afford 40,000 pds if the burgesses
could afford 9,000 pds for a truce in 1347. The return of all English held
lands and Castles represented a further landslide for the Scots, safety,
security and income all at the same time. If Edward were to gamble all
this away on the mere chance that David II would not conceive a child, it
would be woefully out of character as Edward proved beyond a doubt a very
calculating man. I find it likely, although un-provable, that Edward III
knew that David II would not conceive, perhaps through whatever tenuous
contact through his sister or his agents in Scotland he was able to
4″t: Knighton, pp. 112-113.
armed conflict between Douglas and David II and other nobility
unwilling to comply with Douglas’, and presumably David II’s,
wishes) with the Scottish nobles. 449 Douglas showed himself all
too eager to be back in Scotland and willing to consider a
deal with Edward III to get him there. Neither he nor David
II showed any recorded initiative in agitating the populace in
favor of the English king’s demands over those of the estates
of the realm. Nevertheless, Douglas could stand the confines
of his captivity no more and sold his allegiance to Edward III
for the repossession of what he had prior to Neville’s Cross,
and free passage for the English into Scotland through his
lands of Liddesdale. 450 Douglas enjoyed his freedom for less
than a year before his godson, William Douglas, lord of
Douglas (heir to the vast Douglas family estates earned by the
“Good Sir James”), attacked and killed his godfather in
Ettrick forest in August 1353.451 David II went back to Odiham
castle to wait for the negotiations to begin in earnest.
Rotuli Scotiae, vol. 1, pp. 748 – 750. There is an interesting
disparity of views over this point, and herein lies the bulk of the dispute
over the quality of David II’s kingship. Twentieth century scholars such
as Balfour-Melville and G.W.S. Barrow have decided that this means that
David was only too eager to sell out the Scots in exchange for his freedom.
Nicholson argues that David II at no time seriously considered the total
sell-out to the English that the latter two scholars indicate. Webster
does not touch the issue other than to indicate that David II is probably
not the bad king other scholars think he is. The truth is probably
somewhere in between. We have no direct evidence to indicate David II’s
feelings one way or another concerning this issue. However, considering
his past, including his exile in France, I believe it is doubtful that he
seriously considered most of Edward Ill’s alternatives.
450 Rotuli Scotiae, vol. 1, p. 753.
45~ Scots Peerage, vol. 6, p. 341. There has been much speculation about
why the nephew killed the uncle. Some indicate that the dispute was over
land that the elder had cheated the younger out of. Others including
Two more years passed until another treaty progressed far
enough to give David hope of returning home. On July 13,
1354, an agreement was reached. English and Scottish
the ransom of Sir David de Bruis for 90,000 marks
sterling, payable in 9 years, during which time
there was to be a truce, including Sir Edward de
Balliol and all the other allies and adherents of
the K. of England. Twent hostages to be given for
payment, viz., the sons and heirs of the Earls of
Sutherland and March, the heir of the Earl of
Wigton, the heir or brother of Sir William de
Conyngham, the sons and heirs of Sir William More
and Sir David de Graham, William son of Sir William
de Levyngston, the sons and heirs of Sir Robert de
Erskyn, of Sir Thomas Somervylle, of Sir John
Danielston, of Sir Thomas Bysett, of Sir Andrew de
Valence, of Sir Adam de Foulertone, of Sir John
Steward of Derneley, and of Sir Roger de Kyrkpatrik;
John Gray, of Sir David de Wemys, and of Sir William
del Hay lord of Lochorwart.452
As late as November 10, 1354, Edward III still acted in
good faith as though the deal had gone through. He confirmed
that one John le Taillour of Carlisle, “a late adherent of the
Scots,” received “…the pardon granted in his name on 11 July
last by Thomas de Lucy lord of Cokermuthe, warden of the March
of Carlisle, under his commission to receive to peace all
Scots or English in arms against him.”453 Unfortunately for
David II, the return so longed for had to wait even longer,
Wynton maintain, that the younger Douglas murdered the elder in revenge for
the elder Douglas murder of Alexander Ramsay and Sir David Barclay in prior
years. Considering the level of concern both Douglases held for their
landed wealth, I am inclined to believe the reasoning including the land
45~ Bain, vol. 3, p. 288.
453 Bain, vol. 3, p. 289.
this time due to decisions made by his own nobles and his
allies, the French.
The French, so.unwilling to provide the necessary funds
to ransom David II previously, found the token aid the Scots
needed to give them a stronger backbone for resistance. More
pointedly, by insuring that certain Scots received monetary
and some small military aid, they managed to doom David II to
more years of imprisonment and keep the English fighting a
two-front war with them and the Scots. As the Scots struggled
to find the money for their first installment (or perhaps
intentionally stalled paying) of ten thousand marks in a war-
torn and nearly leaderless country454 , the French Royal Council
met and agreed to send money and men under Yon de Garencieres
(Chamberlain of the Dauphin’s household) to help bolster
Money, especially in the right hands, accomplished what
pleading could not. By the end of February 1355 when the
first installment of the ransom was supposed to have been
paid, the English suspected there would be no payment. By the
end of March, David had been moved to Odiham, away from the
border where he had waited for his release. By the end of
March, Garencieres arrived with approximately sixty men and a
45,1 The receipts for income during the Stewards leadership while David was
incarcerated amounted to practically nothing. See the Rotuli Scacarii,
vol. 1, pp. 542-546.
,35 Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire,
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), pp. 152-153.
bag full of money. 456 Near November 1355, Garencieres joined
the earls of March and Angus in capturing and looting the town
of Berwick. Their victory was short-lived however. Edward
III put together an army to relieve the town quickly. He
returned from Calais, and by January 13, 1356, had received
the keys of the town and watched the Scots withdraw.
Garencieres had already departed the month before shortly
after the town fell, his mission accomplished. 457 The Scots
stayed in the war, at least for a while longer until the
French king also earned an extended stay in the Tower of
London as a result of an unfavorable outcome of the Battle of
Edward Balliol arrived at Roxburgh shortly after Edward
III received Berwick back from the Scots. They met on January
20, 1356. Balliol resigned any claim to the kingdom of
Scotland in favor of Edward III by the symbolic gesture of
handing over a handful of dirt and his crown to him to “make
of it what he could.”458 “Edward III paid off Balliol’s debts
and saved his dignity with a pension of £2,000 from the
English Treasury. Balliol retired to Yorkshire where he lived
on in peaceful obscurity until 1364 . “45S With Balliol gone
from the scene permanently, Edward III had a choice to make :
45c Sumption, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire, pp. 152-153.
457 Sumption, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire, pp. 174, 188.
,5e Nicholson, p. 161.
4’9 Sumption, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire, p. 188.
press his claim personally or deal with the Scots and accept
David II. He chose both.
As William Douglas and the many other Scots nobles
arrived at Roxburgh, as if to seek an audience with Edward III
to submit to him, they quietly moved their goods over the
Firth of Forth. At this point, Douglas sent letters to Edward
informing him that none of the Scots cared to come to his
peace. On January 26, 1356 Edward promptly took his army in
three battalions north to Edinburgh and laid waste the
countryside for eight leagues around, burning everything he
could find, creating such devastation as to earn that period
the title of the “Burnt Candlemas.”460
Following so-often successful guerilla war tactics, the
Scots removed all food and water from the vicinity of the
English, forcing them to drink nothing but rainwater for a
fortnight. As the English attempted to send out foragers,
none returned, with or without food. The English had nothing
left to do but retreat, thereby ending Edward Ill’s last
attempt at taking Scotland for his own.461 All of his schemes
having come to nothing, Edward III had no choice but to
rethink his dealings with David II. War with France, always a
more pressing issue, heated up once again and required Edward
4c° Knighton, pp. 138-139.
461 Knighton, pp. 138-139.
Ill’s attention. The forthcoming Battle of Poitiers changed
the landscape for a final peace dramatically.
Edward III needed money. 462 War with France and Scotland
did not come cheap, and at times he spared no expense to get
what he wanted. As the war dragged on and the French obliged
him by losing battles frequently, more noblemen found
themselves having to arrange for ransom money should they
desire a return home. With David II Edward hit the proverbial
gold mine. A king’s ransom should be weighty indeed and might
possibly pay off some of his creditors. As his ambitions with
Scotland dwindled, however, the monetary value of the Scottish
king increased. When King John of France fell into English
hands at Poitiers on September 19, 1356, Edward could not have
been happier. Now, no matter what political conditions were
in Scotland, Edward could afford to be generous with terms for
David II’s release. He no longer needed to hold David II as a
means to keep the Scots out of the war with France; he had the
king of France (which would keep the French at the bargaining
table, at least for a while). France saw more benefit in
keeping the peace than keeping the Scots at war with the
English, and so did not sabotage the next round of
*62 Knighton, pp. 138-139.; Edward III was rousting the clergy for a hefty
sum, only part of which they granted.
Finally on January 17, 1357, Robert Steward moved to
gather an embassy for the express purpose of David II’s
release. William Landallis, bishop of St. Andrews and one who
figured prominently in international politics for Scotland,
led the embassy to London where they discussed terms for David
II’s release on May 8, 1357.463 By September 26, 1357, another
session of council was held at Edinburgh where the treaty was
certainly discussed. By September 28, 1357, David II had
arrived at Berwick where the final negotiations were being
held, in preparation for his return home.4″4
On October 7, 1357, David II returned home to Scotland
finally free to rule his kingdom again. The treaty appeared
iron-clad. Scotland owed the sum of 100,000 marks to be paid
in installments of 10,000 marks each over a period of ten
years without any exception for David’s death, should that
happen before the payments had been made in full. A truce was
to be maintained until the treaty was fulfilled and twenty
hostages from some of Scotland’s leading families would stay
as honored guests in England until all payments had been made.
Three additional hostages from nobles such as the Steward, the
lord of Douglas, the earl of March and others comprised the
ultimate security of the treaty. 465 When the Scottish council
463 Bain, vol. 3, pp. 296, 301; Acts, vol. 1, p. 515.
464 Act, vol. 1. pp. 515-518.; Bain, vol. 3, pp. 296, 298-302.; Nicholson,
c~ Rotuli Scotiae, vol. 1, p. 810-814.; Acts, vol. 1, pp. 518-521.
met at Scone on November 6, 1357, they ratified the treaty.4o°
Scotland then had to decide how to deal with the enormous
burden the ransom placed on the community of the realm.
Several methods of raising money for the ransom were
introduced throughout the rest of David II’s reign, some more
successful than others. Parliament granted the king not only
an increase in the export duties on wool, but also wool
requisitions, whereby he would purchase the wool at a low
standard price and use the profit for the ransom. 467 Another
method for raising the ransom consisted of an accurate
reporting of the true value of land, goods and services in
Scotland. 468 Also, in order that the king not place any
further undo burden upon the populace for living expenses, the
community authorized a revocation of lands, rents and customs
revenues. 465 This latter means, while mentioned in some of
David’s charters of the period, was the least used and
particularly unsuccessful. It was, however, well thought of
enough to have another revocation authorized on September 27,
Lastly, in 1367 David II reluctantly ordered the
debasement of the currency in order to increase the money
Acts, vol. 1, pp. 518-521. Webster, pp. 173-191.
Acts, vol. 1, pp. 491-492.; Webster, pp. 173-191.
4oB Acts, vol. 1, pp. 491-492. Services meaning that even craftsmen had
their names listed.
4°9 Webster, pp. 195-196.
40 Acts, vol. 1, pp. 501-502.
supply for the ransom.471 For the first ten years after his
return, David attempted to keep Scottish currency on par with
English. However, faced with increasing pressure to pay more
ransom he had little choice but to debase the coinage. From
the standard in 1358 of 352d pence to the pound as it was in
England, Scotland struck 320 pence.472
For every pound of silver of appropriate fineness
the Scottish mints paid 27 shillings 9 pence, having
deducted 7 pence seignorage, 11 pence for the master
moneyer, and 1 pence for the warden, for the 2 9
shillings 4 pence actually made from each pound.
This adjustment can be seen as an attempt to bring
the intrinsic value of the Scottish coinage more
closely in line with the true market price for
silver. … [It was] seen in bullionist terms as an
attempt to restrict the outflow of silver…473
and provide more income for the king. Along the same vein,
David raised the export duties on wool by three times the
previous rate, four times in 1368.4/4 Indeed all great customs
were targeted for the payment of David’s ransom.475
From the first treaty, the Scots made two payments.47′
They attempted to get the French to pay David’s ransom for
them, in return of which they promised to renew war against
the English. Unfortunately for the Scots, Edward Ill’s
renewed war with France eliminated that possibility because of
the financial problems the French encountered while trying to
4,1 Elizabeth Gemmill, Nicholas Mayhew. Changing Values in Medieval
Scotland: A study of prices, money and weights and measures. Cambridge :
Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. 1995. pp. 116-117.
4″‘2 Gemili and Mayhew, p. 116.
473 Gemili and Mayhew, pp. 116-117.
474 Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 2. pp. xl-xli.
“•7S Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 2. p. 7.
finance their portion of the war. 477 Nevertheless, David II
initiated a pattern of savvy fiscal behavior when it came to
paying his ransom. He waited until the last possible moment
and paid only when he had to for the rest of his reign. A
fresh plague outbreak in the early 1360s (1362) probably
bought the Scots some time for payment as everyone suffered
with the same problem.
Edward III made little trouble concerning the ransom
until 1363 when events dictated a meeting in November at
Westminster between the two kings and their respective privy
councils. 478 Two memoranda resulted on November 27, 13 63.
Edward III again offered to eliminate further ransom payments,
return occupied territory including Berwick, release the
Scottish hostages, pay off the remaining Disinherited, and
return to the Scottish king any land they historically held in
England (requiring homage only for the English lands and not
for Scotland) . 479 In short, anything the Scots could possibly
have desired or hoped for, under one condition. Yet again,
Edward III desired either himself or one of his sons to
succeed a childless David II. He even conceded that should
this come to pass, the two kingdoms would forever remain
47e Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 2. pp. 54-56.
y7 Sumption, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire, pp. 422-425.
^7S Nicholson, p. 170.
179 Bain, vol. 4, pp. 21-22.
separate- To attempt to insure his success, Edward III even
resorted to small-scale bribery.460
To all appearances, the deal the English king offered
could not have been more sweet, at least that is how it
appeared. David still had faith that he would reproduce,
especially since his recent (May of that year) marriage to the
already proven fertile Margaret Logie. The fact that the
Scots rejected the deal shows two things in particular : the
Steward’s unwillingness to even consider the chance of losing
his inheritance and/or the Scots generally extreme hatred of
the author of the Burnt Candlemas six years previously. At
the March parliament in 13 64 at Scone, the three estates had
their opportunity to decide and rejected Edward Ill’s
proposals once and for all. Edward’s reaction was punitive to
say the least.
Since the Scots chose not to agree to his preferred
conditions, Edward III increased his demands. In an agreement
ratified by David II on June 12, 13 65, at Edinburgh, Edward
ignored all previous payments and increased the ransom to
£100,000 paid in £4,000 yearly installments beginning February
2, 1366. Only a four year truce was agreed to after which
either side could re-start the war, an act which would cancel
the agreement but still bind the Scots to the remaining 80,000
•,sc Bain, vol. 4, pp. 22-23. ; Edward III commissioned gifts for several of
the council members and other members of David’s household.
marks of the original treaty agreed to in 1357 (Treaty of
Such an agreement represented a large step backwards in
the relationship David had been working on developing with
England, but also an important step forward at home. To his
credit, he could have forced, or at least attempted to force
more serious consideration of the easy terms outlined by
Edward III. He had greater prestige after putting down the
rebellion and had sufficiently cowed the rest of the nobility
into accepting his will when it mattered. That he did not do
this infers reluctance on his part to accept Edward’s
conditions. However David did not give up his diplomatic
efforts. The result of his continuing efforts until 1369 was
a combination of patience, strength of will, luck and
When the agreement of 1365 was made, the Scots were at a
distinct disadvantage. Edward III had the upper hand in that
the Scots defaulted on payments several years before, the
consequences of which they were unwilling to pay. Their
traditional ally France was found to be of little help,
especially after they signed a Treaty of Bretigny with the
English in 1360 abandoning their Scottish allies. 482 However,
48^ Bain, vol. 4, p. 25.; Rotuli Scotiae, vol. 1, pp. 894-895.
492 Gray, p. 203. ; Nicholson, p. 167.
as war threatened to resume with France in the late 13 60s,
David found himself in a greater position to bargain.
David’s new bargaining power allowed him to make a new
treaty in June, 1369 .483 This treaty, the final one to deal
with David II’s ransom, concluded over twenty years of
diplomacy with terms both sides viewed as generous. The
original fee of 100,000 marks with all payments already
applied was recognized. Future payments of 4,000 marks
annually were to be made at Berwick or Bamburgh. No
provisions for an English succession colored the Scottish
victory of diplomacy. Territorial concessions promised
earlier by Edward III meant little as David encouraged his
March Wardens (one of whom was Archibald Douglas) to continue
taking back small pieces of English-held territory.
By 13 60 David received revenue from all of the formerly
English-held sheriffdoms484 and made arrangements in 13 66 to
split in half the receipts from Annandale, and the sheriffdom
of Roxburgh in 1369485. The re-assessment of the kingdom’s
assets he ordered in 1366, the Verus Valor486 accurately
surveyed Scotland’s wealth and allowed David and his advisors
a realistic look at the income potential and relative worth of
4S~ Bain, vol. 4, pp. 34-35.
484 Rotuli Scaccarii. vol. 2, pp. 34-43.
“e5 Bain, vol. 4, pp. 11-12.
460 Acts, vol. 1, pp. 499-501.
the kingdom, a vast difference from the administration of the
Steward during David’s captivity.487
“It is incongruous that at a time when David’s revenues
were more flourishing than they had ever been, the ransom
installment was reduced to a lower figure than ever.”488 David
II died leaving behind a Scotland more fiscally secure and
financially sound than at any other time during the fourteenth
century. A firm and well-defined relationship with his nobles
helped him control Scotland and re-impose his will after his
long absence (and the aftermath of the Rebellion of 1363).
David developed the machinery necessary to make his kingship
uniquely successful, not only in the fourteenth century but
throughout the middle ages.
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
If David II has been accused of being a weak king in the
past, surely those scholars looked little past 1363 and the
rest of his reign. To be sure, David spent the first two-
thirds of his reign either in exile or in prison, but one must
not overlook his activities after he returned to Scotland from
captivity more of a king than the rest of the Scots dared to
admit. Those who thought he could be easily manipulated,
namely the Steward and Douglas, he proved wrong. The events
that gave David II the opportunity to be such a strong king
came in 1363.
If one examines the chronicle and cartulary evidence for
the early part of the year, David II appeared to do little
different than he previously had. Certainly the absence at
his close councils of Douglas and Dunbar created some
speculation, but nothing else untoward happened, that is until
everything came about in the month of May. Even David’s
movements offer little clue as to his impending crisis. From
Spynie on January 5, 1363, David traveled to Edinburgh on
January 9 and proceeded to Aberdeen where he stayed from
January 15 through January 20, 1363. By January 25, 1363, he
had returned to Edinburgh where he issued a charter to one
John Riddell. Three days later on January 28, David sent
privy seal letters to the sheriffs of Perth and Forfar
concerning the abbey of Scone. By February 4, 1363, David had
returned to Edinburgh where he remained until sometime after
April 7, 13 6 3 . 333
The general nature of the recipients of these charters
fell along the lines of the church and minor nobility.
Subjects of the charters and letters ranged from the Friars
Preachers of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Aberdeen to men such
as William Keith (marshall of Scotland), John Hay, Gilbert of
Glencarnie, John Riddell and John Peebles (themselves minor
nobility or laymen) to name a few. David II only dealt with
the great nobles when it suited him, such as when confirming a
charter from one of them to a lesser noblemen. 334 Many
charters during this period lack witness lists so it is
difficult to determine who was closest to the king during this
entire period. However, those that figure most prominently
among the witnesses include Robert Erskine, William Keith,
Archibald Douglas, Walter Moigne, John Danielston, and David
Anand. Robert Steward also witnessed in his capacity as
“senescallo Scocie comité de Stratherne nepote nostro”, as
well as the king’s chancellor Patrick bishop of Brechin.335
On April 24, 1363 David inspected a charter in St.
Andrews which Robert Erskine, Archibald Douglas and William
Keith witnessed. Robert Steward also witnessed, staying close
^3j Webster, pp. 315-321.
~34 Webster, pp. 315-321.
to David II while his allies gathered their forces.
…a great seditious conspiracy was planned in the
kingdom by the magnates. For the leading important
men were agreed against their lord the king, and
formed a plan among themselves either to persuade
him to return to their point of view or to drive him
out of the kingdom. And in case any of them backed
out from this plan, indentures were formally drawn
up, securely reinforced by seals added by all the
parties. But as an immediate demonstration of the
purpose they had planned … in their actions, they
arose cruelly in an armed band in serious numbers to
achieve their aim by force and fear.336
To meet this threat, David assembled men loyal to him, chief
among them Archibald Douglas, Robert Erskine, and John
Danielston (this last perhaps not the greatest but he held the
important post of keeper of Dumbarton castle, a key royal
strongpoint and presence in western Scotland) to crush the
rebels.337 “The said king marched by night from Edinburgh, and
very nearly surprised the said Earl of Douglas at Lanark,
where he had lain at night, but he escaped with difficulty,
some of his people being taken.”338 By early May at the latest
the conspirators felt they had little chance of success and
sent an envoy to David to sue for peace.339
On May 12, 1363, from Dundee David continued his practice
of rewarding burgesses by giving to the burgesses of Dundee
more land as an addition to a grant made previously by Robert
33′ Webster, pp. 315-321.
J^c Bower, vol. 7, pp. 324-325.
3j7 Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 2, pp. 130-220.
338 Gray, p. 17 4.
I for a tollbooth. 340 From Dundee he passed on to Perth on May
26 where he stayed through the 28th of the month. From Perth
David moved back to Edinburgh by June 4, 1363, where he stayed
throughout the summer, until September 27 when he returned
again briefly to Perth.341 From this period through to the end
of David’s reign, one rarely finds David without at least two
of his steadfast supporters, most often Robert Erskine and
Archibald Douglas but also including John Danielston, John
Preston, John Lisle, William Keith, William Dishington, Walter
Haliburton, and John Herries . 342
Patrick Dunbar returned to David’s favor on July 3, 1363,
when he received a grant from the king. He once again began
witnessing charters343 for the king on July 16 along with
William, earl of Douglas. David certainly had the ability to
punish the conspirators should he have desired it. However,
Douglas and Dunbar controlling the borders made significant
contributions to the safety of the region, as well as kept the
appropriate amount of pressure on the English. They continued
reacquiring land the English formerly occupied while not
Bower, vol. 7, pp. 326-327.
Webster, pp. 322-323.
3% Webster, pp. 328-336.
~4~ Several other nobles appear also, namely William Ramsay, Alexander and
David Lindsay, and James Douglas of Dalkeith. These others I do not
necessarily exclude from the list above; however they have family power of
their own, and while they may be supporters of David, they did not
necessarily need his largess for success.
343 Aside from that, David could certainly not trust Robert Steward with
those lands, or the responsibility they carried. And he could not enfeof
one of his favorites without seeming to validate the Steward’s fears. As
incurring England’s wrath and distracting Edward Ill’s
attention so keenly focused on France. David knew that
Scotland was better off with a subdued March and Douglas
rather than two broken and impotent earls.
From Perth on September 27, David proceeded to
Dunfermline by October 1, then back to Edinburgh by October
13, where he remained through October 24, 13 6 3 . 344 David
issued two charters from Melrose on October 27 and 28, and one
from Perth on November 20. He undoubtedly spent the New Year
at Edinburgh, as he inspected letters there in January 1,
1364. Robert Steward is absent from the witness lists of
these inspections; the earl of Douglas occupies the prominent
position of first witness. Others include Robert Erskine,
Master Walter Wardlaw (secretary to the king and archdeacon of
Laudon), Master Gilbert Armstrong preceptor at St. Andrews,
John Herries and James Douglas (possibly the son of the earl
of Douglas, or the James Douglas of Dalkeith) .345
No charters exist for David for over two months. On
March 8, 13 64, David was at Scone in parliament where he
issued at least two charters and discussed the question of the
succession and his ransom. Sometime after March 10 he
proceeded to Perth where he resided through April 12. The
following day he went to St. Andrews (twenty some miles – a
long as Douglas and March were willing to submit, the situation turned into
a win-win for all parties involved, except of course Robert Steward.
long journey for one day) and by the end of the month David
again resided at Edinburgh. 346 From April 30 to June 8, 1364,
no record exists of David II’s location. However, David again
traveled to Perth from June 28 through July 4, 1364 . 347 On
July 5, David had already moved on to Stirling where he issued
more letters in favor of the abbey of Scone. By July 14, 13 64
David had returned to Edinburgh.348
From Edinburgh David traveled to Ayr on July 20 and
Dumfries on July 27, then back to Edinburgh by August 6, 1364.
On August 6 he rewarded Robert Erskine and his wife Cristiana
Keith (the king’s “most dear cousin”) with the lands of Alloa
and Gaberston and the isle of Inch and part of the king’s park
at Clackmannan.349 David made an effort to reward his faithful
when possible. This grant was simply one of many Erskine
received throughout the last years of David’s reign.
From Edinburgh, David went to Perth by September 10, back
to Edinburgh from September 17 through 26 and back to Perth
from November 1 through November 17. He went back to
Edinburgh on November 29 and ended his year at Linlithgow on
December 10 issuing letters to Malcolm Fleming, sheriff of
Dumbarton to cease interfering with the men and property of
3,14 Webster, pp. 336-342.
3″ Webster, pp. 342- 343.
Webster, pp. 348-350.
347 Webster, pp. 350-352.
348 Webster, p. 356.
the abbey of Paisley. 350 By January 12, 1365 David had
returned to Perth. Within two weeks, on January 25, David had
returned to Edinburgh where he inspected a charter from Thomas
Fleming, earl of Wigtown, to Robert Erskine.351 David remained
at Edinburgh until at least very early summer when on June 22,
1365 he issued a charter to an Edinburgh burgess, one Robert
Multrer.352 The king made the journey to Perth around July 24
for a council to discuss the conditions of the current truce
and ransom treaty.
The fall of the year brought about an increase of
movement by David II, when he moved very quickly between
places, sometimes visiting more than one location in a day.
From Edinburgh David moved to Lindores abbey on August 3,
1365, where he stayed until at least August 7; by August 13 he
had returned to Edinburgh for a short while. David remained at
Edinburgh through the August 17. By August 25, he had reached
Perth once again and from there to Kildrummy on September 9,
Dundee on September 20, then back to Edinburgh by October 2
through the end of the year.353
349 Webster, pp. 357-358.; Cristiana may have been related to William Keith
the marshal of Scotland. However, David never refers to him as his ‘most
35″ Webster, pp. 362-363.; This was certainly not the Malcolm Fleming also
earl of Wigtown.
351 Webster, pp. 363-365.; Thomas was the son and heir of Malcolm, whom
David made the first earl of Wigtown upon his return from exile in France,
back in 1342.
3″2 Webster, pp. 365-377.
353 Webster, pp. 378-382.
During this period, David issued several charters in
favor of the church. On August 25 at Perth he granted the
abbey of Cambuskenneth an annual rent of ten pounds from the
lands of Plean in the sheriffdom of Stirling. He gave to the
bishop of Moray, on September 9, 1365, the power to punish
crimes committed by his tenants in the locations of Strathspey
and Badenoch without the interference of royal justices.354
This last charter is distinctive because of the nature of the
king giving over his power to administer justice in a part of
his kingdom to the owner of the land itself. The practice
itself was not unknown at this time in Scotland, but it was
certainly exceptional, especially since the bishop of Moray
appears so infrequently in any of the charters or letters
issued by David. Alexander (bishop of Moray) represented some
measure of control over the region that David desired to
reinforce. 355 By giving him the power to punish crimes
committed by his tenants, David removed not only the royal
official, but also any influence the earl of Moray (at this
time still Patrick Dunbar) may exert over events of this
nature in the area.
David also continued sharing out rewards to his faithful
inner circle, including John Herries on October 17, Alan
Erskine (probably related to Robert Erskine) on October 2, and
35n Webster, p. 37 9.
his cousin Robert Bruce356 on October 20 .357 The king also
issued another charter to the burgesses of Edinburgh for more
land for their tollbooth on December 3, 13 65. Witnesses for
these charters conformed mainly to the by-now regular
attendants upon David II. However, one individual that
increased the frequency of his presence in the charters
throughout 1364 and 1365 was Archibald Douglas, cousin to the
earl of Douglas and illegitimate son of Sir James Douglas, the
hero of Robert I’s war for Scottish Independence. Archibald
Douglas became more than a trusted minor official for David by
the time David II died in 1371 and was at this time learning
all he could from his mentor David II that would stand him in
good stead in the future.
Back in Perth for the beginning of his next year of
travels, David II confirmed a charter for the Kennedy family
on January 22, 1366. He remained there through at least the
2 6 of the month. February 18 found David back in Edinburgh
issuing yet another charter to one of his favorites, this time
to William Dishington. On February 25 he confirmed a charter
of Alice Randalston to Walter Spital and then moved on to
Montrose by March 31 and stayed there until April 2 when he
issued letters to his chamberlain concerning one David
355 This is certainly not surprising since some of the members of Robert
Steward’s previous alliance held lands in the province of Moray, not to
mention the earl of Moray himself.
356 David acknowledged him as his cousin in the text of the grant, but he
may in fact have been an illegitimate son of Robert I.
Falconer. 358 From Montrose David proceeded to Perth on April
6, then Arbroath on April 7 and 8, and back to Perth again by
April 10, where he stayed until at least April 17, 1366.
The confirmation David issued on April 10 was for the
burgesses of Perth. Originally issued by William I and re-
issued by Robert I, it gave permission for the burgesses to
form a guild and gave them various privileges. 359 One
interesting note concerning this confirmation rests at the end
of the witness list. Immediately after “Robert de Erskyne et
Archibaldo de Douglas militibus” comes the phrase “nostrils
consilariis,”36° for a little salt applied liberally into the
wounds of the only great nobleman witnessing, Robert Steward.
David made sure his heir knew that his lesser nobleman were
his counselors also, especially when it came time to provide
something for some of his other non-noble allies, the
burgesses of Perth.
By May 8, 1366 David resided again in Edinburgh where he
issued and confirmed charters through July 5, 1366. On July
19, David was in Stirling issuing letters to one Brice Wyche,
a lesser nobleman who had lent David money previously.361
Parliament that year was held at Scone, during the week of
July 26, when David settled vast estates in Annandale on John
Webster, pp. 376-380; Thomson, vol. 1, pp. 56-66.
356 Webster, p. 382.
3^5 Webster, pp. 383-384.
Webster, pp. 383-384.
3oi Regetsa. p. 385.; Register, p. 86.; Rotuli Scacarrii. p. 174.
Logie, son of David II’s new queen, Margaret Logie.362 From
Dundee on July 30, David issued lands to William, earl of
Sutherland, in free barony, one of the very few such
assignations to a great noble during his reign. David
remained at Dundee at least one more day. By August 17, 1366,
David had passed on to Aberdeen where he remained through
September 4, 1366 . 363
On September 6, 1366, David was in Arbroath inspecting a
charter issued during his captivity. From Arbroath he moved
to Perth on September 13, then finally to Edinburgh on October
2 6 where he remained until December 13, 13 66 (his
representatives went to London to discuss the terms of the
division of the profits acquired from Annandale with the earl
of Hereford) 364 . Again David issued lands in free barony, this
time to his supporter William Dishington on November 27 from
Edinburgh. 365 As his last recorded action that year, on
December 14th, David inspected two charters at Drumelzier.3°°
Throughout 1366 the general make up of the witness lists
stayed similar. David continued to use lesser noblemen such
as Robert Erskine, Archibald Douglas, John Preston, Walter
Haliburton and William Dishington. The great nobles that
362 Webster, pp. 385-386.
363 Webster, pp. 388-390.
354 Webster, pp. 393-396; The Scots continued to slowly recover territory
on the borders throughout this period. It is this reason that David could
legitimize the collection of profits from Annandale, important not only as
his ancestral lands but as a gateway into Scotland itself.
305 Webster, pp. 394-395.
attended him continued to be Robert the Steward, William, earl
of Douglas, and Patrick, earl of March and Moray.307 Steward
had long ceased to earn the appellation of “nostro karissimo”
in the witness lists.
Once in the list of charters is there a conflict with
dates and places. December 14, 1366 is a date that David
appears to be in two places at once, Edinburgh and Drumelzier.
It is unlikely that David made the trip in a single day. One
possible solution may be that one or other of the charters was
begun on a previous day and either finished on the day at the
location, or started on that day and finished at a separate
location. I suspect the latter, and that Drumelzier to be his
correct location on that date. Another possible solution, and
indeed the more probable, is that the charter issued in
Edinburgh (actually an inspection of a charter) was recorded
or copied incorrectly. Webster, in his examination of the
charter, provides evidence that the charter is certainly a
copy as no seals or slits for the tags were found in the paper
of the charter itself. Additionally, the fact that the hand
is unidentified and that it was found in the Morton Muniments
rather than in the Register of the Great Seal create some
Webster, pp. 398-399.
l6′ And of course his chancellor Patrick the bishop of Brechin. William
Keith the marshall of Scotland witnessed acts although not as frequently as
the other lesser noblemen on the list.
doubt as to the veracity of the document’s date.368 A third
solution may be that it is a forgery, which Webster doubts.369
The next year brought new opportunities for strife and
discord from the Steward. Robert again grew increasingly
dissatisfied with his lot in life as David continued in his
near fanatical quest to provide himself with an heir other
than the Steward. David began to doubt that his current queen
would provide him with the heir he desired. Within another
three years, David would attempt to discard Dame Logie, and
attempt once again to marry in hopes of siring an heir.
Meanwhile, Robert had to maintain his support of his uncle in
public, while David awarded choice bits of land and privilege
to his own followers in preference to the Steward’s choices.
David began 1367 in Perth inspecting a charter for
Alexander Cockburn on January 13. He remained at Perth
through January 20 when he restored Malcolm Fleming’s heir,
Thomas Fleming, to the earldom of Wigtown without however the
rights of regality Malcolm had enjoyed.370 From Perth David
returned to Edinburgh by February 10 where he inspected
3″ Webster, p. 398.
36a Webster, p. 398.; I consider this option a bit more seriously than
Webster for the following reasons. The Douglases of later centuries,
indeed William Douglas of Liddesdael himself, for whom the original charter
was written, were not above forging a document for their own personal gain.
Also, if one inspects the witness lists of charters issued before and after
this inspection, Hugh Eglinton does not appear in those lists. Considering
the placement of the lands that Eglinton owned, which fell under the rubric
of the Steward, I suspect that he was not David’s man, but Robert the
Steward’s. This is of course all conjectural as there is little other than
circumstantial proof for any of these statements.
370 Webster, pp. 399-400.
charters on the 10 and 11 of the month.371 By April 11, 13 67,
David issued letters at Aberdeen to his officials (sheriff and
bailies) protecting the rights of the bishop of Brechin (his
chancellor) concerning the market of Brechin. By April 20,
David traveled to northern town of Elgin in order to stop the
depredations of Robert son of Duncan of Atholl in the area of
Glencarnie. 372 The event apparently ended satisfactorily, for
David returned to Edinburgh by May 10, 1367, to inspect a
charter from Alexander II to the burgh of Ayr.373
David bestowed the lands of the earldom of Atholl on John
Stewart, and his wife Annabella Drummond, from Perth on May
31, 1367. Robert Steward resigned these lands in favor of his
son John, continuing to spread Steward influence throughout
the north.374 The king returned to Edinburgh by June 6, 13 67,
when he granted John Herries the rights of free regality in
the barony of Terregles in the sheriffdom of Dumfries. 375 From
June 6 until June 15 David stayed at Edinburgh. However we
have no record of him again until he appeared at Montrose on
August 8, 13 6 7 . 37°
Less than a week later, David rode to Dundee where on
August 8, 1367 he issued charters to John Craigie and John
Crichton. He returned to Edinburgh by August 22 and remained
3’^ Webster, p. 401.
j72 Webster, pp. 401-402.
373 Webster, pp. 402-403.
Webster, p. 404 .
3,3 Webster, pp. 404-405.
there through September 20 until parliament around September
28 when he appeared at Scone and remained through the end of
parliament until October 7, 1367. By the end of October, on
the 24, he had returned to Edinburgh where he remained for the
rest of the year.377
At the parliament at Scone in October 13 67, another act
of revocation was passed. 378 However, this act did not appear
to have the wide reaching consequences feared by the nobility
from the first act. David used this version mostly as a
bargaining tool. Nicholson suggests that it was not put into
effect unless it was to achieve a desired effect with several
magnates he had trouble with, most notably those belonging to
the “Highland party” to which the Steward belonged. 379 Only
one formal revocation from the parliament exists. David sent
letters to Scone Abbey revoking all pensions that had been
granted without royal consent. 380 To warrant such an action by
the king, the pensions must have been either large or numerous
or both. The king did not make a habit of denying Scotland’s
abbeys much, if anything at all. Just the opposite, he
championed them along with his other source of non-traditional
support, the burgesses.
3’I Webster, pp. 406-408.
37′ Webster, pp. 408-418.
378 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 1, 1841, pp. 501-503, 527-529.
3^5 Nicholson, p. 178.
350 Webster, p. 414-415.
Whatever the cause of this particular revocation, it
certainly precipitated a widespread movement to repress the
power of the abbeys. Just five days previous, on September
28, 1367, at Scone, David sent letters to the abbey of
Newbattle granting it the rights of free forest in its lands
in the Vale of Leithen. An action such as this hardly appears
to be the action of someone attempting to control the power of
the abbeys, especially when he faced significant opposition in
his kingdom from his heir and others of the “Highland party”
should he allow them the freedom to view him as weak.
David left Edinburgh to be at Strathord around January
18, 1368, where he issued a charter to Duncan Fraser and his
wife, Cristiana, for lands that had been resigned by Margaret
Gilliebrand, the wife of Lawrence Gilliebrand.381 The next day
David moved to Perth where he sent letters to the sheriff and
bailies of Fife, canceling the liberties and regalities
enjoyed by the burgh of Cupar since the death of Robert I as
ordained by the parliament of 1367 .382 What these specific
liberties were was not mentioned and the reason behind it is
obscure. However, by this revocation and others like it,
361 Webster, pp. 418-419.; It is interesting that during David’s reign not
an insignificant number of women resign their claims to certain lands. The
landholding practices of women during the fourteenth century is an area of
study that has received no attention and is an area that should be examined
in detail. At first glance, women do not appear to be at a disadvantage or
under any more pressure than men who resign their lands are. However, this
would be difficult to tell by the language of the charter, since by this
time most charter writing is formulaic in nature.
382 Webster, pp. 419-420.
David showed the strength of his position. He need not fear
even his allies the burgesses should the cause be just, as it
appears to have been by the lack of response from Cupar.
By February 17, 1368, David had returned to Edinburgh
where he remained until March 4 when he inspected a charter at
Stirling from Robert Stewart “of Senbothy” to Duncan Wallace
(knight) and Eleanor Bruce (the countess of Carrick), Duncan’s
wife. Four days later, David issued a charter to Stewart “of
Senbothy” from Perth (on March 8, 1368 ) .383 No more
indications of David’s location exist until May 10, 1368, when
he confirmed a charter in Elgin. On May 13, he issued letters
to his chamberlain and the sheriff and bailies of Inverness
from Forres. David traveled to Inverness by May 19 where his
presence assured the commands of his letter were followed.384
By June 12, however, he left the area and issued a charter to
John Herries from Dunfermline.385
Within two days, by June 14, 1368, David arrived at Scone
where he stayed for parliament through at least June 25, 13 68.
It was at this parliament that David bestowed upon Robert
Steward’s eldest son, John (and later king Robert III) the
earldom of Carrick with the approval of the three estates.386
Witnesses for the charter include the bishops of Saint
Andrews, Dunblane and Brechin (the chancellor); Thomas earl of
393 Webster, pp. 420-422.
364 Webster, pp. 424-425.
Mar; William Keith (the marshal); Robert Erskine; Archibald
Douglas; Hugh Eglinton and William Dischington. Robert
Steward and William, earl of Douglas, while certainly present
at parliament, do not appear on the witness list for this
document (probably as a matter of propriety).
The presence of the earl of Mar, however, is interesting.
Thomas last witnessed a charter back in 1366 and before that
back in 1363. This current charter was also to be his last in
David II’s reign. Had Thomas moved back into favor with the
king? Probably not. Most likely, Thomas simply was there
when the king needed a member of the greater nobility to add
to the witness list of John Steward’ s charter that was not
John’s father. Why the earl of Douglas did not witness this
particular charter remains a mystery. The remaining witnesses
all owe their allegiance to David II and legitimized the grant
not only the eyes of David’s enemies, but also with his
supporters. David must have certainly been aware by this
point in his life that his chances of conceiving an heir grew
more slim as the years passed. By endowing John Steward with
the earldom of Carrick, David fixed the succession in the
event that he had no legitimate issue of his own.
David II repeated his performance from the first
revocation in that he yet again set out to provide his favored
Webster, pp. 425-426.
36c Webster, pp. 428-429.
abbey’s and allies with lands and privileges in the face of
the revocation sponsored by parliament. At Scone on June 25,
for example, he sent letters to the sheriff and bailies of
Perth concerning the abbey of Scone’s rights in some lands in
the sheriffdom of Perth.387 On July 4, 1368, he issued a
charter of entail to Robert Erskine and his wife, some lands
in the sheriffdom of Clackmannan which had reverted to the
crown under the revocation. 388
Another charter of land in the king’s hand by the
revocation was also issued from Stirling to John Lyon on July
9. He received lands in the sheriffdom of Aberdeen. On July
10 one Gilbert of Dun received a charter of entail for lands
in the sheriffdom of Banff, interestingly enough with feudal
obligation, the service of one soldier in the king’s army.385
On July 25 at Stirling, George Dunbar received (as heir of
Patrick Dunbar earl of March) land in three sheriffdoms, Ayr,
Lanark and Dumfries, setting the early stages for the soon-to-
be powerful lord. 390
By July 26, 1368, David had returned to Edinburgh where
he stayed through August 24. David attempted to placate his
queen by granting to her son John the lands of Logy in Perth
resigned by Robert the Steward. No further charters were
issued until November 12, 1368, from Perth. By November 26,
307 Webster, p. 429.
380 Webster, pp. 429-431.
David was in Arbroath and moving quickly, in Dundee on
November 28, 1368.391 He stayed in Dundee until December 2,
13 68, when he moved on to Perth, which he reached by December
7 of that year. In Perth on December 10, he wrote letters to
certain justiciars ordering them to hold an inquest of
mortancestor for James Douglas, the nephew of the Knight of
Liddesdale. 392 By December 24, David arrived at Lindores where
he stayed most likely through the end of the year. On January
5, 1369, he was in Perth issuing letters to James Douglas
permitting him to repair the castle of Dalkeith, which became
James ‘ primary residence and the appellation at the end of his
name, James Douglas of Dalkeith.393
As the end of David II’s reign approached, some of the
problems that plagued his early reign began to appear as
nothing but a distant memory. Instead, he allowed himself to
deal with the problems most serious to him: providing a
successor for himself other than his nephew Robert; securing
the inner peace of the kingdom; and pretending the issue of
the ransom vanished with the last treaty established with
389 Webster, pp. 432-434.
39° Thomson, p. 103.
39j Webster, pp. 433-440.
392 Webster, pp. 442-443.
39^ Webster, p. 445.
39″ This treaty which will be discussed in a later chapter reduced the
fiscal burden on the Scots to a very manageable level. David had the
luxury of being able to maintain the fiscal reforms he and parliament
initiated to pay the ransom, thereby enriching his coffers as well.
The most serious issue for the king, that of producing a
non-Steward heir, led to growing but intermittent contention
between David and Robert Steward. Steward certainly had his
allies in the “Highland Party” that could exert some pressure
on David when necessary. Mostly, their effectiveness came
with their seeming indifference to royal administration, their
absence from parliament, and their tacit refusal to obey royal
officials. Being so far from Edinburgh had its advantages.
However, not only the king noticed their less-than-honorable
attitude. Parliament discussed it in open session in 1366.395
At that time the worst offenders consisted of John of the
Isles, John of Lome, William, earl of Ross, Hugh de Ross and
John Hay. 396 David’s power increased as his reign continued,
so much so that he could imprison the Steward and his sons for
a slight upon his queen, 397 and demand obeisance from the earl
of Mar, the earl of Ross, John of Lome, and Gillespie
Campbell at parliament on March 6, 1369.398
At times during a king’s reign there occur years that
define their rule, whether through action or non-action, peace
or war, treaties or declarations. For David II, 1369 was such
a year. To all appearances, he had finally quelled the
39′ Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, pp. 4 98-99.
33° Acts. p. 4 98.
39′ Bower, pp. 358-359; Their imprisonment, if it happened at all, must have
been very short indeed. Robert is always present at the charters issued
during the winter of 1368-1369 with the exception of from December 9, 1368,
to January 17, 1369.
39c Acts. pp. 506-507.
rebellious spirits of his wayward nobility and, brought
prosperity to his country, and encouraged a nascent
representative government with his continual support of the
burgesses and church in spite of the feudal nobility.
Even though the king developed other governmental options
during his reign, he could still not do without the nobility
in Scotland. To check their power was enough for the moment.
Increasing the influence of certain minor nobles in fact made
them great, perhaps none more so than Archibald Douglas,
illegitimate son of the “Good Sir James” Douglas, hero of the
War for Independence successfully won by David’s father,
Robert (I) Bruce. So as David’s year began at Perth, January
5, no one had a complete enough picture of what would happen
as to see it coming, and thereby forestall it.
From Perth David moved quickly to Dundee on January 6,
then on to Montrose by January 17 and back to Perth by January
20. By January 27, 1369, David arrived in Edinburgh where he
stayed through February 23, 13 6 9 . 399 Parliament, which David
naturally attended, began in early March at Perth. The
aforementioned submission of John of Lome and others was all
but a sealed bargain by Lome and Campbell’s attendance at
parliament. In fact, their submission allowed David to make
the fact that they once again enjoyed royal favor known by
issuing charters in their favor. John of Lome and his wife
received theirs on March 12 while Campbell received
confirmation of a large number of lands in Argyll (and others
also) on March 15, 1369.400 As assurances, David had his loyal
corps of men witness the charters, including Archibald
Douglas, Walter Haliburton, and William Dischington. Robert
Steward, William earl of Douglas and Robert Erskine also
Sometime after March 17, 13 69, David removed himself to
Edinburgh where he issued letters on April 10 to one John Lyon
(probably the king’s secretary in 1371 and auditor of the
excheqeur402 ) , awarding him ten marks from each justice ayre
north of Forth for life.403 David remained at Edinburgh until
at least April 22, 1369.404 Some time shortly after that he
left for England to discuss the establishment of a new ransom
treaty (negotiated in good faith on both sides) and a truce
which actually held up better than anticipated.
From Westminster, on June 18, 1369, David issued letters
agreeing to a truce with England for fourteen years as well as
the payment of the balance of the king’s ransom. 405 By July 14
he had returned to Scone and from there to Edinburgh four days
later. The king remained at Edinburgh through September 29,
Webster, pp. 450-452.
pp. 453.; Register p. 78.
1369, issuing a host of charters and letters. However on
September 18, 1369, he issued a charter that unwittingly set
the stage for the ascendance of not only one of the most
powerful nobles of the fourteenth century (probably the most
powerful), but also what would become one of the most powerful
families among the Scots nobility in the fifteenth century,
the Black Douglases.400
With this charter, Archibald acquired all royal lands
between the Nith and Cree rivers in Galloway in free barony.
The price of this grant was a single white rose delivered to
the castle at Dumfries on the feast of Saint Peter.407
Granting these lands to Douglas accomplished several things
for David II. First, it put one of his favorites, indeed his
protégé, in a position to counter the power and influence of
his internal enemies in the region. Second, it enabled him to
better protect the western marches from possible incursions
from the English. Third, Galloway, an area that historically
provided either great weal or woe to the reigning monarch,
continued to unsettle the king. The earl of Wigtown had so
many problems that within a year after David II’s death,
Robert II bestowed upon Douglas the lands of the earldom that
40° Webster, pp. 475-476.
40’ Webster, p. 475.
had been resigned by Thomas Fleming. 408 This enabled Douglas
to secure Galloway.
As he moved through Scotland, David had continued his
policy of placing his supporters in key places, as evidenced
most strongly by the grant to Douglas. On October 4 he issued
a charter from Stirling, moved quickly back to Edinburgh by
October 6, then to Perth on the 19, Montrose by the 23, and
Aberdeen by October 27, 1369. By this point he most certainly
had begun to move his forces north to meet and deal with John
of the Isles once and for all.
“On 15 November 1369 an indenture was sealed in which
[John] acknowledged that xmy redoubtable lord David, by the
grace of God, illustrious King of the Scots, has been moved
against my person by reason of certain negligences committed
by me…'”. 409 John agreed to obey royal officials and pay
contributions ; in exchange David demanded only the security of
hostages. David used his established attitude toward the
intransigent lords, also forcing William, earl of Ross, to
grant lands to Walter Leslie, about which he complained to
Robert II shortly after David II’s death.410 The king had
established himself so well by this time that his magnates,
“,0c This indicates several things. First that Galloway was not trouble free
and needed a strong hand to settle it. Second, that Robert II respected
Douglas and his ability to project his influence in the region. Third that
Douglas had by this time became an integral part of the government.
Nicholson, p. 179.; Acts, vol xii. pp. 16-17.
“10 Nicholson, p. 179.; Aberdeen-Banff Illustrations, vol. 2, pp. 387-389.
including the great earls and the Lord of the Isles, dared not
rouse his anger.
From Inverness where he took John’s submission, he issued
letters the following day then moved down to Aberdeen by
December 4. He issued letters to his officials reminding them
not to compel services from the lands of the bishopric of
Moray, despite the recent revocation of parliament.411 From
Aberdeen he traveled to Montrose by December 8, where on
December 9 he issued a charter of entail to James Douglas of
the barony and castle of Dalkeith, for which he would ever
after be known.412 He left Montrose and arrived at Dundee by
December 11 where he wrote letters to his officials confirming
the rights and privileges of the abbey of Scone, as he had
done with the lands of the bishopric of Moray earlier.413
After Dundee he moved on to Perth by December 15, then
ended the year at Edinburgh, where he remained until at least
February 8, 1370. The year 1369 had great significance for
David II. He established a final treaty for his ransom with
the English, along with a fourteen-year truce. Steward’s
“Highland Party,” apparently crushed for the time being, gave
him no reason to re-assert his authority in that direction
(with the exception of William earl of Ross in 137 0) . David
also attempted to rid himself of his non-reproductive queen
Webster, pp. 479.
412 Webster, pp. 479-483.
(who traveled to France to take her case to the papal court).
He succeeded in taking the first step in creating what would
be one of the most powerful Scottish magnates of the
fourteenth century, who had started with nothing and thanks to
loyal service to David II, was rewarded with lands in
Galloway. The last full year of David II’s reign saw no
decrease or slowing down of the king’s plans. In fact, David
acted as if he would outlive his heir, Robert Steward.
Perhaps in retrospect, it would have been better if he had.
From Edinburgh at the start of the year, David performed
his yearly tasks. Nothing distinguished this year as
significantly different from any other. He continued
supporting those he chose, and tightening the reins on those
her perceived as less than enthusiastic about his rule.
Patrick, earl of March, had died, probably sometime in 1369.
His heir, George Dunbar, proved more loyal to the king than
Patrick.414 David remained at Edinburgh until February 8, then
moved to Perth through March 3 and back to Edinburgh through
April 7, 1370.415 By April 16 he was in Stirling where he
issued charters and letters to several Erskines, including
Thomas and Robert. Patrick, bishop of Brechin, was replaced
as chancellor sometime between March 3 and April 4, 137 0. By
^ Webster, pp. 483-484.
4×4 George was very loyal to the Scottish crown until the end of the century
when Robert III went back on a deal concerning the marriage of his daughter
into the royal house.
415 Webster, pp. 485-489.
April 7, John Stewart, son and heir of Robert Steward, began
witnessing charters as well as his father. Also from that
date, with the exception of an excursion to London on June 4
where David wrote promissory letters to Edward III concerning
his ransom (and on September 9, David was in Melrose to
confirm a charter of William, earl of Douglas, to one Laurence
Govan). David II remained at Edinburgh until near October 18,
when he attended parliament at Perth.416
In Perth until October 27, David moved to Dundee by
November 1 then returned to Perth briefly on November 9. By
December 31 he had returned to Edinburgh where he issued one
letter, inspected one charter, and issued two others before
his death on February 22, 1371. Three instances of note
occurred during David’s last year. First, David imprisoned
the earl of Mar at Bass Rock,417 which shows David’s strength
of David’s position as a ruler. Second, at parliament he
dealt with the evasive William, earl of Ross, by making him
resign “his lands and receive it back under conditions of a
tailzie in favor of Sir Walter Leslie.”418 Third, David found
another prospect for getting himself an heir in Agnes Dunbar.
One of his last acts included letters to Agnes concerning the
11* Webster, pp. 489-495; .
41^ Rotulii Scaccarrii. vol. 2, p. 357.
*iB Nicholson, p. 179.; Acts. vol 1, pp. 537-538. ; Thomson, pp. 124-125.
one thousand marks per year she would be collecting as a
pension, a kind of wedding present in advance.419
Even though David had managed to control his nobility and
strengthen relations with England, especially concerning the
complicated issue of the ransom, some issues remained
unresolved for some of the participants. When David demanded
the earl of Ross resign his lands only to receive them back
under a talzie to another, other great nobles, Robert Steward
included, must have considered the fact that the same could
happen to them. With David’s imprisonment of the earl of Mar
at Bass Rock, this feeling must have been amplified. Finally,
as David prepared yet again to produce an heir, perhaps this
too struck a sour note with his enemies. Unfortunately for
David, less than “eleven days later… [he] …unexpectedly died in
Edinburgh. The long-suffering Steward at last secured his
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
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CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
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The year 1356 saw great change in the Scots’ fortunes.
After Edward Balliol resigned his kingdom to Edward III of
England, Edward III attempted to make the most of his new
claim while he had the drive and momentum. The English king
appeared at Berwick with an army at his back to relieve the
town from Scottish occupation, accomplished as recently as
November of 1355 by Thomas Stewart. 259 Edward proceeded to
march through Lothian destroying all he found, so
impoverishing the countryside that the “common folk call that
time xThe Burnt Candlemas'”.200 He found himself deprived of
the last elusive victory he so desired by stiff winds out of
the north that prohibited his reinforcements and supplies from
arriving in time to make the campaign feasible. As Edward III
left a trail of ash behind his army on its return march to
England, so also did he leave the last hope of acquiring
Scotland for himself.
Later that year Edward III again stepped up his campaign
in France resulting in the Battle of Poitiers and the capture
of the French king, a much bigger prize than the king of
i5S Fordun, p. 362; Knighton provides an interesting account of the capture
which revolves around the Scots driving a heard of stolen cattle near the
town and waylaying the townsmen that came out to gather the cattle. The
next night the Scots supposedly put ladders up against the walls and broke
in to the city while the guards were sleeping, killing all they found. (p.
136-7) Fordun gives an account of the Scots coming by sea, it all being
carefully plotted out by Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus and Patrick Dunbar,
earl of March.
Bower, pp. 290-1.
Scotland. Balliol, the one whom Edward could count on to put
up at least token resistance to the Scots, gave up his cause.
Edward’s best hope now lay in two things. First, the natural
divisiveness of the Scottish nobility, so clearly illustrated
during the somewhat contemptuous guardianship of Robert the
Steward; second, the rightful king of Scotland himself, David
II. David and Edward had cooperated with each other several
times already, though undoubtedly with different goals.261
Regardless of the intentions of either monarch, David II re-
entered a Scotland ready for a change in leadership. Robert
the Steward finally decided that the return of David under
conditions that he could deal with must be preferable to his
return under conditions in which he might have no say, such as
with a mandate and support from Edward III.26~
The years immediately following David II’s release showed
a king eager to return to his kingdom and return it, or at
least his kingship, to the glory of the days before his
capture. But eleven years of captivity, during which the only
role model he had (Edward III) showed him the importance of
politics in attaining his desires, gave him the wisdom to
“61 David’s goal was to be free at any price. Edward’s goal was to free
David at a high price. One might look to Edward Ill’s ever-present
financial troubles as a partial explanation for the huge ransom he set on
David II, that and his probable desire to so cripples the Scots with a
ransom payment, that they would be indeed unable to raise arms against him
for some years even beyond the truce that accompanied the ransom treaty.
~c2 The treaty conditions decidedly favored the Steward, since the only
concession Edward III retained was one of money. The succession to the
throne was never in doubt in this final treaty, and to the most powerful
reward the faithful. Being true to their Scottish heritage,
the “faithful” were not necessarily faithful to David II, but
rather in resisting the English. Within the first two years
of his return, David rewarded the most significant of the
nobility with important titles or lands. Perhaps the most
important of these rewards went to William Douglas, now heir
to all the Douglas lands heritable from his father, Archibald
Douglas (the former Guardian at Halidon Hill), and from his
uncle the “Good Sir James.”
This presentation placed the bulk of the control of the
borders into the hands of William Douglas. Furthermore, David
went even further in rewarding the lord of Douglas when early
in 1358, David made him the first earl of Douglas, unknowingly
tying the royal house and the Douglas family together until
the destruction of the Douglases in the sixteenth century.
Other individuals also received great rewards, including a
small group of lesser nobles that enabled David to rule, and
not the Steward and his adherents. One may discern the
individuals most keenly rewarded by an examination of the
charter evidence, as well as determining David II’s location
during the early years after his return.
On November 10, 1357, in parliament at Scone, David
issued letters patent allowing the abbey of Melrose to retain
noble of Che kingdom at the time, hostages and money meant not nearly so
much as a possible ascension to the throne.
their Scottish lands for they were under control of the
English through no fault of their own. 263 On the following
day, November 11, 1357, he issued privy seal letters to the
sheriff and bailies of Aberdeen concerning the rights of the
abbey of Arbroath in the face of one Laurence of Garvock.~°4
Right away one can see that David did not forget the clergy,
settling the two most serious problems they had before doing
anything else. Two days later on November 13, 1357, one may
see in his first lay charter in the witness list some of the
stalwarts that supported David with increasing regularity and
also who might be in a likely position to bully him. 265 His
second charter on the same day contains the same witnesses
with the addition of William Douglas, listed as lord of
Churchmen represented themselves well at this first
issuance of charters as they had when David returned from
France so long before. Three bishops attended him on those
days : Bishop William of St. Andrews, William bishop of
Glasgow, and Patrick the bishop of Brechin. These men,
especially the bishop of Brechin, supported David with their
presence for many of his remaining years. Other important
individuals appear here also, most notably Robert Erskine, a
man from the lesser nobility who worked his way into David
2*3 Webster, p. 191.
2a4 Webster, p. 191.
II’ s confidence through his ability and loyalty to the king.
Another man from the lesser nobility found not infrequently in
David II’s witness lists was William Livingston. Though his
role was somewhat limited upon David’s return from captivity,
Livingston served the king at Stirling in 1342, as well as
held several positions of sheriff, one in Haddington in 1341
and one in Lanark in 1358.267 His inclusion here shows a
desire by David to associate with the stalwarts of his past
and possibly those whose loyalties he need not question, such
as Erskine and a few others.
For the greater nobles, their representation needs none
other than Robert the Steward (titled earl of Strathearne) and
Patrick Dunbar, earl of March (and Moray at this time) .268
These two noblemen held the bulk of the power in the kingdom
at the time of David’s return. The Steward controlled much of
western and northern Scotland, while Dunbar controlled the
eastern marches and some territory in northern Scotland also,
especially with the addition of the earldom of Moray. Add to
this pair the soon to be made new earl of Douglas, William
Douglas, and one may include in the power block the central
border and some of the western borders, as well as some lands
in the central lowlands of Lothian. With these three
“c5 Webster, pp. 192-194.
26f Webster, pp. 192-194.
26′ Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 1, pp. 472, 513, 581.
individuals supporting the king, none dared to attempt to foil
his purposes. Conversely, so recently returned from his
captivity, David could scarcely afford to alienate any of
these men at this time, his own power base having eroded
during his absence.
David II had three issues to contend with upon his return
to Scotland. The first and foremost in the mind of the Scots
was of course how the immense sum of his ransom, one hundred
thousand marks, could be afforded by so poor a kingdom.
Second, David had to restore his influence throughout the
kingdom and reinstate the authority of the crown that waned
during the years of Robert Steward’s lieutenancy. Third,
eleven years in captivity taught the Scottish king one thing
if nothing else, that trusting his powerful nobles would make
him no king in reality but another puppet to replace Balliol,
albeit with a different master. David’s ransom will be
discussed in the following chapters in detail. Therefore, let
us turn to the second problem, which coincided with the third
problem interconnecting the two in question and in resolution.
Asserting royal power in the early days of his return
proved to be somewhat easier than it might have been. The
Scots had the monumental task of restructuring their economy
in the face of over twenty-five years of near continuous
26c It is not my intention to go into in-depth discussions of the marital
politics of the period to determine the veracity of a title at a particular
warfare and raiding, on top of the ravages the plague left
behind when it finally passed from Scotland in the early
1350s. David’s first solution to the immediate task of
reasserting his authority came with rewarding the faithful,
his favorites and the powerful; the second came with making
himself visible throughout the land.269
David II did not only reward the nobility, he also
ensured that important burgesses received recognition. For
example, Adam Torrie (Tore) received the wardenship for the
Exchange for the whole realm of Scotland by charter on
December 26, 13 5 7 . 270 This Adam Torrie also took an important
role in trade in 134 7, shortly after David II’s capture, when
the king appointed a Scottish staple at Middleburg and
banished all Flemings from Scotland.271 In 1348, this same
Adam traveled to Bruges to settle the differences between
Others benefited from David’s generosity as well,
especially members of the minor nobility. One John Preston
received lands forfeited by Joachim of Kinbuck and John
Marshal, in spite of the fact that all grants of forfeited
time. Should one desire to find this information, check the Scots Peerage.
265 This was probably not a conscious effort since it was quite typical for
David to travel throughout his kingdom while issuing charters and letters,
something quite typical of medieval kings in general.
Webster, p. 195.
2^ Webster, pp. 140-141.
M. P. Rooseboom, The Scottish Staple in the Netherlands, (The Hague :
Martinus Nijhoff, 1910), pp. 4-5.
lands had been revoked by the last assembly of estates.27″1
This effort on David’s part showed his attempt at asserting
himself in the face of his council. Shortly after his return,
in early November of 1357, the council mandated that the king
should live of his own means and not place unnecessary
taxation upon the shoulders of an already suffering country.
“David was authorized to revoke into his own possession
all grants he had previously made of lands, rents or customs
revenues, and what was thus revoked was not to be regranted
save upon xmature counsel.'”274 Efforts at establishing a
mechanism for repayment of the ransom immediately upon his
return aimed primarily at lesser landholders, the Church,
towns and burgesses, the places that David found his most
willing allies in the years to come. The fact that he chose
to ignore and even defy the will of the council in this
instance should have given a warning that he would rule and
not be ruled.275
The king’s progression through the country began after
the council meeting at Scone on November 13, 1357 .27° From
Scone, David II traveled to Lanark on December 13, 1357 to
27″ Webster, pp. 195-198.
Nicholson, p. 164.
~’b In fact, the last charter listed that has any indication about the
aforementioned revocation was associated again with John Preston on January
4, 1358, at Edinburgh. Either David chose to ignore the seeming desire of
the council to place the entire burden of the ransom on anyone but
themselves, or he counted on the accounting of the kingdom he ordered upon
his return (which will be more fully discussed in the next chapter when I
discuss the issue of the ransom in detail).
270 Webster, p. 192.
inspect a charter of Donald earl of Lennox. From Lanark, the
king traveled to Stirling on December 26, 1357, where he
presented a charter to Adam Torrie, wardenship of the Exchange
for the realm previously mentioned. By January 4, 1338, David
resided in Edinburgh for his grants to John Preston. One week
later, he issued a charter from Dumbarton to one Malcolm
Fleming of Biggar (presumably not the same Malcolm Fleming
that was the earl of Wigtown) on January 11, 1357.
David traveled to Perth to inspect another charter by the
earl of Lennox on January 15, 1358. From January 18, 1358
until March 6, 1358 he stayed at Edinburgh to conduct the
business of the realm. 277 The witness lists appear almost
identical throughout this early period of activity after David
II’s return from England. Only minor variations exist,
including William Douglas as lord of Douglas after David
confirmed him in the position by charter. The chancellor,
Patrick, bishop of Brechin appears first on the witness list
before Robert the Steward, whom the king at this point did not
ignore as he had before his capture at Neville’s Cross.
Patrick earl of March and Moray, William (newly made) earl of
Douglas, Sir William Livingston and Sir Robert Erskine
complete the list.
Principals of the charters issued include earls, lesser
noblemen and abbeys. The subject matter of the charters most
frequently reinforced prior grants of land, confirmed charters
of land to and from great lords, and reassigned lands
previously held by other individuals. On January 18, 1358,
David confirmed one John Kennedy in all his lands acquired up
to the date of the grant.278 Two days later on January 20,
1358, David II confirmed charters from Duncan, earl of Fife,
to Beatrice Douglas (wife of Archibald the Guardian at Halidon
Hill) , and from William,lord of Douglas (soon to be earl), to
James Sandilands and Eleanor Bruce (Sandilands wife).
David attempted to cement his loyalties also. He granted
to John of Lome all the possessions of Alexander of Lome,
including the castles in the possession of the independent-
minded John of the Isles in an attempt to gain favor in the
eyes of Lome and the “Highland Party” that evolved while the
king was imprisoned.279 Two days later on January 25, 1358,
David granted to Gillespie Campbell the lands of his father
owing to the forfeiture of those lands by his brother Dugal
Webster, pp. 200-210.
Webster, p. 200.
~79 Webster, pp. 202-203. The kings of Scotland traditionally had poor
relations with the Lord of the Isles and the men who held the territory of
the western isles for Scotland. John of the Isles, for example, spent much
of his life cooly indifferent to the overtures of both David II and the
king of England.
280 Webster, pp. 203-204. This series of grants is interesting due to the
fact that Campbell, John of Lome, John of the Isles, William, earl of
Ross, and Robert the Steward all comprised what Nicholson has termed a
“Highland party’. Certainly in these early days after his return David II
not only rewarded those whom he desired, but also those whom he had to,
namely the Steward and his cronies. One can see this demonstrated in the
charters issued after his return: to John of Lome, William Douglas
David issued charters to the abbey of Melrose on January
27 and 28, 1358. He sent letters patent to Melrose abbey on
January 2 0 and to Arbroath abbey on February 6, 1358, in
council again in spite of parliament’s revocation of grants of
lands and fees.281 On February 4, 1358, he made William
Douglas the first earl of Douglas, thereby adding greater
strength to alliance the Steward organized to dull the effects
of royal power upon David’s return. However, David did not
return to Scotland in order to be ruled by others, as his
defiance of the order of parliament suggests. He also used
the men he knew to be faithful to him to witness as he
rewarded others. David used William Ramsay and David Anand”6″
to testify in the case of a parcel of land surrendered by
William Bisset and re-granted to William Sinclair on February
11, 1358, at Edinburgh.283
The character of these charters changed little in the
remaining month David remained at Edinburgh. He issued a
charter to John Murray on March 6, 1358, which included Walter
Haliburton, John Preston, and William Ramsay in the witness
lists. The same day David issued a charter to Walter
(Robert’s ally), Gillespie Campbell, and Thomas Stewart (one of Robert’s
sons). David indeed walked a fine line between advancing his chosen few
and rewarding those he must due to politics.
281 Webster, pp. 208-209.
282 David Anand shows up frequently in witness lists in the early days after
David’s return. William Ramsay was probably the same William Ramsay that
saved Archibald Douglas, another of David’s protégés, from capture at the
Battle of Poitier in 1356.
283 Webster, pp. 209-210.
Haliburton for the barony of Bolton.284 By March 12, 1358,
David arrived at Perth. The language he began using in the
witness lists toward his heir appears conciliatory or even
deprecating in nature. Once again David terms Robert “nepote
nostro karissimo”. One may surmise by the sheer amount of
grants to the Steward and his allies during this period that
David stood little chance of governing on his own. For the
first two years after his return, from 1358 to 13 60, this
certainly appears to be the case. Such grants that do not
benefit the “Highland Party” appear to benefit lesser noblemen
for the most part, and seemingly (to the Steward’s eyes)
unimportant ones at that.
The remarkable aspect of the next several years of
David’s kingship comes not so much from who the charters are
to, but who witnesses them. It is in the witness lists that
one may find evidence of the politics played from each end of
the spectrum, both noble and royal. The great lords may have
some control over who gets what grant of land but none over
who witnesses these grants or who has access to the king.
Robert the Steward counted for long on the strength of
his alliance in being able to control (or not control as
evidenced by his weakness both before David’s release and
after his death) the crown even though he no longer had the
bulk of the power in his very hands. One may also determine
284 Webster, p. 210.; Register of the Great Seal of Scotland., p. 490.
from the absence of individuals in the witness lists something
of the favor they held in the eyes of the king. For example,
one may notice the near total absence from the witness lists
of anyone from the western isles and highlands that resided in
Steward-friendly territory, outside of the Steward himself.”85
David spent much of his time in or near Edinburgh and Scone
during 1358, leaving the west alone for the most part at this
David II left Perth sometime after March 16, 1358, when
he inspected a charter to the abbey of Coupar. 286 From Perth
David traveled to St. Andrews and confirmed a charter issued
by Robert I, his father. The witness list of this particular
charter included the bishop of St. Andrews (naturally);
William (Ramsay), earl of Fife; David Annand and John
Preston. 287 By April 2, 1358, David II had arrived back in
Edinburgh and confirmed a charter to one John Gray with
William, earl of Fife, replacing Thomas, earl of Mar. David
issued a charter on April 5 and April 14 from Edinburgh,
concerning lands in Argyll and an order to his chamberlain to
pay the Friars Preachers their due.288
On May 3, 1358, at Dumbarton David issued a charter
concerning lands in Perth. By May 14, however, he was in
Arbroath issuing letters protecting the abbey of Arbroath
202 See Reqesta and Register of the Great Seal witness lists.
286 Webster, pp. 211-213.
against unwarranted fees on lands held exempt. 289 He appears
in Edinburgh less than a week later on May 20, 1358, issuing
another charter concerning lands in Argyle. David seems to
have stayed in Edinburgh throughout the rest of May and June.
From Dundee he issued another charter on August 18, and from
Perth on August 20, 1358. From August 31 through at least
October 1, 1358, David stayed in Edinburgh issuing charters
David proceeded to parliament at Scone around November
10, 1358, on which day he issued a charter to Alexander
Cockburn.291 On November 12, 1358, David inspected a charter
from Thomas, earl of Mar, to Robert Erskine and his wife for
lands in the lordship of Garioch, Thomas’s own lands awarded
to him by David II earlier in the year. Witnessing this
charter were several men loyal to David II, including William
Cuningham, William Livingston, and Hugh Eglinton, of whom
Livingston had served as a temporary hostage for David on one
of his trips back to Scotland during his captivity in
England.29″ David stayed in Scone through November 18, 1358,
when he issued letters prohibiting visits to Orkney from the
sheriff and bailies of Inverness and the coroner of Caithness,
2°7 Webster, p. 213.
Webster, pp. 214-215.
253 Webster, pp. 215-216.
29° Webster, pp. 224-227.
29^ Thomson, pp. 54-55.
25i Bain, p. 459.
but was in Perth on November 22, 1358, to inspect a charter
from the earl of Mar to a canon of Aberdeen.”93
By December 15, 1358, David arrived again in Edinburgh
with the regular core of witnesses in attendance, the Bishops
of St. Andrews and Brechin, Robert Steward, William Douglas,
Robert Erskine and John Preston. He also inspected another
charter on the following day, December 16, 1358 .294 Following
that inspection, David traveled to London where he next
appears on record issuing signet letters from Friars Preachers
of London on February 21, 1359, concerning the repayment of
his ransom. 295 David informed Edward III that the respite
granted him, arranged by his wife, Queen Joan (Edward’s
sister), for the payment of the first installment of his
ransom, did not invalidate Edward’s rights under the treaty.296
Queen Joan from this time stayed in England where she died a
short four years later. David had replaced her in his
affections with his mistress Katherine Mortimer earlier when
he returned from his captivity in England.
One week after David’s meeting in London, he appeared in
Scone, in February 28, 1359. Two weeks later on March 15,
David induced Thomas, earl of Mar, to surrender the barony of
Terregles in the sheriffdom of Dumfries to one John Herries
~9j Webster, p. 233. This may be an excellent example of David’s hands-off
policy of the western isles at the time, which also included the
northeastern Isle of Orkney.
Webster, pp. 233-237.
235 Webster, pp. 237-239.
(another knight favored by David) . 297 David arrived at Dundee
for council, where he also issued a charter of entail to
Henry, duke of Lancaster, for the lands of the earldom, of
Moray in the sheriffdom of Inverness.298 Interestingly enough,
while Robert Steward did witness this charter, Patrick Dunbar,
who at this time styled himself earl of Moray, did not appear
in the list. The same day in council David issued letters
patent to John Menteith restoring him to certain lands despite
a grant of the same to one John Logie.295 On April 8, 1359,
while still at Dundee David inspected a charter to another of
his faithful, William Meldrum. William, earl of Fife, took
the earl of March’s place in the witness list, while David
added John de Lisle (keeper of Edinburgh castle in 1360) .300
By May 3, 1359, David had returned to Edinburgh where he
probably stayed through June 5, 135 9. On May 3, David
inspected two charters from Thomas Moray of Bothwell, one to
Robert Steward and one to Robert Erskine.301 The Steward
received a barony in the sheriffdom of Clackmannan, while
Erskine received a barony in the sheriffdom of Lanark, each to
his own influence—the Steward in the west and Erskine in the
Bain, vol. 4, p. 8.
Webster, pp. 239-240.
295 Webster, pp. 240-241; Bain, p. 3. ; The Calendar makes this date in the
year 1358. However we know by the regnal year and the start of the regnal
year that this date should be 1359.
~55 Webster, pp. 241-242.; This .is the same John Logie married to Dame
Margaret Logie, whom David II married in 1363 after his Queen Joan died in
300 Webster, pp. 243-244. Rotuli Scacarii, vol. 2, pp. 50.
301 Webster, pp. 24 6-248.
mid lowlands near the king. During the summer of 1359,
Erskine was absent from the witness lists of David’s charters.
This corresponds with a mission David sent him on with Norman
Leslie as “trusted envoys” to France. 302 Erskine and Leslie
were to inquire of the pope about the possibility of a tenth
of all ecclesiastical incomes, which he granted for the
following three years.303 They also spoke with the French
about the same subject.
In 135 9 they informed the Dauphin Charles
(regent for the captured King John) that David,
while a prisoner, ‘was never minded to abandon the
French alliance, even although, if he had done so,
the king of England would have released him more
easily from prison.’304 The envoys proposed that the
Scots would renew the war on the English if the
French would pay King David’s ransom. The French
were unenthusiastic: the most they could offer was
50,000 marks to be paid at Bruges on 5 April 1360 on
condition that the Scots renewed the old alliance
and sooner or later made war on the English.305
During the same summer David moved from Glasgow on June
10 to Perth on July 2 where he stayed through at least July 4,
13 5 9 . 30° From Elgin on August 12, 1359, David issued letters
to the bishop of Moray authorizing him to “proceed with
ecclesiastical censures with those who interfered with the
possessions of the church in Moray.”307 David attended
parliament at Scone on October 3, 1359, where he demanded of
‘1* Nicholson, p. 167.
^ Bower, vol. 7, pp. 312-313.
j04 See R. Delachenal, Histoire de Charles V. (Paris, 1909-1931). vol II.
^ Nicholson, p. 167.
306 Webster, pp. 248-250.
all his “royal officials not to interfere within the regality
of the abbey of Abroath.”30s He remained there in parliament
through October 26, 135 9.
A summation of the charters and grants David made in his
first two years shows several things. First, David initially
rewarded those great nobles he knew he could not function
without, namely Douglas and the Steward (including members of
his faction and family). Second, David increased his use of
lesser noblemen when there were certainly plenty of greater
noblemen around to aid in the running of the kingdom should he
have chosen. Third, he occasionally required of some of the
greater nobles, Thomas, earl of Mar, for example, to resign
certain lands in favor of his own men, such as Robert Erskine.
Lastly, David made certain he did not alienate the burgesses
and clergy. He regranted rights to abbeys and protected them
from royal officials and noblemen who would have liked to have
seen some abbeys lose certain of their lands and incomes.309
David unwittingly set himself up for a demonstration of
the growing dissatisfaction of the Steward, Douglas and
Dunbar, as they realized that David did not need them
specifically to retain control of the kingdom, no matter how
powerful they were. The fact that they were present with the
jC’ Webster, p. 250.
306 Webster, pp. 251-252.
309 For a more detailed view of this, see the character of the charters
represented in the Reqesta during this period. Obviously, not all abbeys
or their holdings were affected.
king indicates their general importance to be sure, but did
not limit the king to acting only in their interests. In
fact, they needed David more than he needed them. While there
could only be one king, anyone could own land or an earldom at
the king’s whim, especially considering the blank check given
to David by his parliament in revoking any and all grants of
land and customs he had previously awarded. This meant to the
nobility, that largess in the future came from one man, the
King David II of Scotland. While certainly they were not
without recourse, resisting tbie man many had worked so long to
liberate would prove difficult in the extreme.
The new year saw David 13 at Restenneth on January 2,
1360. From there he proceeded to Edinburgh where he resided
on January 10 and 11, 1360, inspecting charters from William,
earl of Douglas, and that of tnis father, Robert I.310 In this
new year one begins to find Walter Haliburton311 added to some
of the witness lists. Haliburton, long a supporter of his
king, only added to David’s apparent determination to not rely
on the great lords for permission to govern. David traveled
to Perth from Edinburgh by January 20, 1360, where he issued a
charter to the burgesses of Dundee. David was joined by
William, earl of Douglas, at Dundee. One may also find in the
3^G Webster, pp. 255-257.
311 Walter Haliburton was captured w5.th David II at the Battle of Neville’s
Cross. He spent almost the same amount of time interred as did the king.
See Calendar, vol. 3, index for a brief description and location of his
document the first mention of his lay chamberlain, Walter
From Perth on January 26, David traveled to Forfar on
January 31, where he inspected a charter from the earl of
Atholl to one Roger Mortimer, and back to Edinburgh by
February 15, 13 60 where John Preston rejoined him. David
reached Stirling by March 23, 1360, where he issued a charter
of a portion of the royal income to Robert Erskine. Of
particular note is the addition of Roger Mortimer to landed
reward (even if it came from the earl of Atholl) and to the
witness list.313 While no specific connection exists between
Roger Mortimer and the mistress of the king, Katherine
Mortimer, there may be a familial connection.314
Webster, pp. 258-260.
Webster, pp. 260-262.
Mark W. Ormrod, “Katharine Mortimer’s Death at Soutra, ” in Sharp
Practice, 4: Fourth Report on Researches into the Medieval Hospital at
Soutra, Lothian/Borders Region, Scotland, ed. Brian Moffat (Edinburgh:
Soutra Hospital Archaeoethnopharmacological Research Project, 1992), 110-
120. Ormrod suggests that Katharine belongs to a mercantile family in
London at the time and cites several examples of families listed with that
surname in London in the latter fourteenth century. He also asserts that
she could have been part of Queen Joan’s entourage as a lady-in-waiting. In
support of this view is David II’s own actions. Later in his reign after
his marriage to Margaret Logie, he provides land for her son from her
previous husband. If this instance correlates in type to the gift to
Logie’s son, then it is possible that Katharine was a relative of this
Roger Mortimer from Ballandro in the sheriffdom of Mearns. If this were
the case than Katharine would be Scottish, thus lending more credence to
the theory that she was part of some entourage that came from Scotland
while he was imprisoned. She may not necessarily have been in Queen Joan’s
since Joan did not actually come to England for many years after his
capture, and other noblemen began travelling back and forth as soon as the
negotiations for the ransom began.
Alternatively, his arguments for her not being noble born are also
compelling. It merely provided more reason for the distress of the
Scottish nobility that David II had taken up with the daughter of a simple
burgess. While it remains possible that Katharine was related to the
infamous noble Mortimers of England, it seems more likely that either
A full council, which David II attended, met in Perth on
or about April 12, 1360,.315 On May 5, 1360, David made his
way to Sweetheart Abbey where he inspected a charter to the
abbey by Dervorgilla. From there he journeyed back to
Edinburgh by May 26, 1360, where he issued yet another charter
in spite of the revocation of grants authorized by parliament.
It is difficult to determine the exact act that apparently
enraged the great lords enough to plot the murder of the
king’s mistress in the coming months, but perhaps this act,
again in defiance of parliaments, contributed to it.316 From
Edinburgh David next appeared on record in Perth from
approximately July 5, 1360, through July 22, after which he
removed himself to Edinburgh by August 20, 1360.
This late charter represents a significant departure in
policy for the king, albeit viewed with the benefit of
hindsight. Archibald Douglas witnessed his first charter for
David II on August 20, 1360, although it was merely a
Ormrod’s connection with the London nobility is correct, or that she was a
member of a Scottish entourage and related to the Roger from Ballandro.
The fact that David was housed in London for several years before being
moved to Odiham supports Ormrod’s London nobility theory. David’s
inspection of the Ballandro charter seems to support the Scottish option.
For yet another option, Katharine could have been part of Queen
Philippa’s (Edward Ill’s wife) household as Edward Ill’s mistress, Alice
Perrers, was. It seems even more likely considering that Odiham belonged
to Philippa throughout David’s imprisonment there. Since David’s contacts
with the outside were strictly regulated by Edward III, she would almost
have to have been at either the Tower of London or Odiham castle in some
capacity other than that of a simple domestic servant. Unfortunately, no
other records of Katharine exist to date, leaving her origins a mystery at
315 Webster, pp. 263-264.
confirmation of a charter issued by one Roger Aulton. Walter
Haliburton, another loyal supporter of David II’s as well as
Robert Erskine, also witnessed.317 Robert Steward and William
Douglas attended also, as usual, but their appearance with the
growing number of lesser noblemen must have created a certain
amount of unease. One probable explanation for the increase
of lesser noblemen in attendance upon the king is as a
response to the murder of his mistress, Katherine Mortimer,
during the summer of 13 60. The suspected culprit and
instigator, Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus, had not yet been
For the rest of 13 60, David moved around to several
places. On September 14 he was in Aberdeen, on October 20
back in Perth, on October 26 and 27 at Scone in parliament, on
October 28 he arrived in Perth, and ended his year on record
at Edinburgh on November 20, 1360.319 At this parliament in
particular, David made it obvious to the great lords that he
could and would rule without their permission. He not only
included in his closest councils lesser noblemen, such as John
Preston, Robert Erskine, Hugh Eglinton, William Livingston,
31c Webster, pp. 264-268. Walter Moigne ends up holding the castle of
Kildrummy for David after David captured it the following year, indicating
hid favor in David’s eyes.
J1′ Webster, pp. 270-271.
318 This must have been a trying time for Robert, Thomas’s relative. One
may further conjecture that Robert may have been behind the plan in the
beginning, although little evidence to support that position exists other
than his eventual uprising against the king during the winter of 1362-1363.
319 Webster, pp. 270-280.
and the new-comer John Danielston (keeper of Dumbarton
castle) , 320 but he also granted further rights to the burgesses
of the realm.321
The death of David’s mistress did not cripple the king as
his enemies probably hoped. Instead, it appeared to galvanize
him against their encroachment upon his royal prerogative. He
more openly supported those not of the great nobility and
turned more frequently to them for support in an increasing
number of avenues from financial to diplomatic, and eventually
for military support.
For the year 13 61 we have comparatively little on record
for David’s movements about the kingdom. From Linlithgow on
January 12, 1361, David proceeded to Edinburgh by the
fourteenth at the latest. He remained at Edinburgh through:
April 14, 1361, focusing his interests mainly on the abbeys of
Melrose and Arbroath, and on letters and charters awarding
various parcels of land to one James Douglas, cousin to
William the earl of Douglas. 322 From Edinburgh David moved to
Perth where he stayed through May 2, 1361. On May 7, 1361,
David confirmed or inspected at least three charters for ttae
Carmelite Friars of Aberdeen (one inspection contained eighat
charters within it) .323
320 Rotuli Scacarii, vol. 2. pp. 50-51.
3-11 Webster, pp. 272-277.
322 Webster, pp. 280-284.
323 Webster, pp. 286-295.
For witnesses during this period, one finds Walter Moigne
twice; Patrick, earl of March; once; William Ramsay; and”one
David son of lord Walter. With the exception of the one time
addition of Patrick Dunbar, the greater nobles witnessing did
not alter beyond the typical configuration. While the
variation of the great lords is practically nil, indicating
both ensconced positions and David’s lack of desire to gather
other noble counsel, the king continued to add more lesser
nobleman to his closest councils.
Records for the rest of 13 61 are few. One finds David at
Edinburgh on June 16, at Dumbarton on September 18, Edinburgh
again on October 6, Scone on November 12, and finishing out
the year at Edinburgh again on December 5 and 6, 1361 .324
David added another official to his witness lists on December
5, 1361, at Edinburgh in a charter to one William Leith of
lands and fisheries on the sheriffdom of Aberdeen : 325 William
Keith the marischal of Scotland.3z6
Throughout all of 1361, Robert Steward and William, earl
of Douglas, scarcely left the king’s side and were nearly
always in the witness lists. No other great nobles enjoyed
such frequency in the lists. Patrick Dunbar, earl of March,
came closer than any others, but still lacked much
Webster, pp. 295-299.
Webster, pp. 297-298.
326 Yet another minor noblemen placed in an important position in Scottish
government. Keith actually was marishcal prior to David’s release from
captivity and witnessed only a scattered few charters prior to this time.
representation, throughout 1361. However, as noted previously,
David increased the number and frequency of members of the
lesser nobility in attendance upon him. While Douglas and
Steward enjoyed their positions of prominence, their
decreasing influence on their king must (and indeed later one
will see how much) have bothered them. David’s personal power
increased to the point that he arrested Thomas Stewart, the
earl of Angus, sometime during 1361 and let him rot in
Dumbarton Castle for a year where he died sometime midsummer
13 6 2 . 327
In the year 1362, David II issued nearly twenty charters,
inspections, letters, and conformations. He began at Arbroath
on January 6 and ended at Kinloss on December 24, 13 62. From
Arbroath on January 6 he proceeded to Ardross on February 3,
then to Edinburgh on April 6 where he remained until near May
12 when he appeared at Scone inspecting a charter to William
earl of Ross.328 David traveled to Stirling by May 2 4 and does
not reappear again until he issued a grant at the castle of
Kildrummy on September 7, 13 62. David exerted his power
during the summer months and brought down Thomas earl of Mar’s
castle at Kildrummy, ostensibly because he had sworn
allegiance to the king of England back in 13 5 9 . 329 David
3″‘ Bower, vol. 7. pp. 318-319.
328 Webster, pp. 300-308.
j25 Nicholson, p. 168.; Rotuli Scotiae in turri londinensi et in domo
capitular! westmonasteriensi asservati, vol. 1, (London: G. Eyre and A.
Strahan, 1814-1819), p. 836.
immediately handed Kildrummy over to trusted followers, Sir
Walter Moigne and Ingram de Wynton rather than one of his
great lords, probably further alienating them. 330 The
beginning of David’s campaign against the earl of Mar may have
convinced the earls of March and Douglas, with Robert Steward
and his faction’s support, that David could no longer be
controlled in a manner they thought fit.
On May 1, 1362, David issued a charter from Edinburgh
that contained the last documented presence of William, earl
of Douglas, and Patrick Dunbar, earl of March, with the king.
From that point until June 5, 1363, Patrick Dunbar remains
absent from the witness lists entirely. Douglas does not
reappear until July 16, 1363. Both of these men rebelled
against David II at the very end of 1362 or early 1363 and did
not reconcile until at least May of 1363 when David took his
new bride, Dame Margaret Logie.331 This topic will be more
thoroughly examined in a following chapter.
From Kildrummy, David pressed on to Aberdeen by September
7, 1362, where he gathered a council and stayed through
September 14, 1362. From Aberdeen he returned to Kildrummy
where he issued two charters, one on September 19, 1362, to a
son of an Edinburgh burgess, and one to William Livingston on
October 13, 1362. From November 1 through November 16 he
^3C Bower, pp. 318-319.
j31 Webster, pp. 306-331.
resided in Aberdeen again, where on the sixteenth of the month
he confirmed a charter from Thomas, earl of Mar, to one John
Ross. From Aberdeen he traveled to the Forest of Kintore by-
November 23, 1362, then on to Spynie from November 28 through
December 3, 1362.332
David went to Mouswald where he issued a
charter in his capacity of lord of Annandale to one John
Carruthers and by December 24, he was in Kinloss for the
holiday. It must have been here that David uncovered the
first whisperings of the plot against him. The major players
had been absent from his presence for quite some time. Robert
Steward, hedging his bets as always, had stayed close to the
king, probably to better discern the rebels’ chance of success
and where he might end up in the aftermath. The year 13 63
became a banner year for David II. It defined the rest of his
reign and the relationship he held with his nobility both
greater and lesser. By the end of 1363, no one could dispute
the fact that David ruled Scotland through his own wit and
will at the sufferance of no one.
3″2 Webster, pp. 308-314 .
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
The year 1346 saw some of David’s great successes and his
greatest failure (not entirely of his own doing) that impacted
negatively enough on his reign that it took Scotland many
years to recover the freedom and prosperity it had spent the
last thirteen years recovering from the English. It began
much like the previous few years for David II. He issued
charters, letters and inspections throughout the kingdom.
David also began to desire to press his current advantage
against the English to see what more he might gain. As Edward
III pressed his advantage in France by laying siege to Calais,
David showed interest in establishing himself internationally
as a force to be reckoned with. He made plans for invading
northern England not only to aid the French in their fight
against the English, but also to solidify his hold on the
borders so recently acquired. His great push into England
took place in October of 134 6 and ended at the Battle of
Neville’s Cross. David’s activities prior to that are
typically difficult to follow; little information exists to
show his location or actions prior to the main event.
However, charter evidence allows one to determine his location
and the company he kept prior to his ill-fated foray into
From December 1345 to March 1346, David remains absent
from any record. By March 17, 1346, however, David appeared
in Edinburgh to issue a charter to the earl of Sutherland,
heretofore urimentioned in charters or chronicles.184 By May 5,
134 6, David occupied Dumbarton while he issued charters to
Newbattle Abbey (on the 5th of May) and to one Patrick son of
Michael Harper (on the 6th of May) . Witnesses to both charters
included Robert Steward, John Randolph (termed again earl of
Moray and lord of Annandale and Man), Patrick Dunbar, Malcolm
Fleming earl of Wigtown, and the chancellor Thomas
On May 17, 134 6, David issued a charter from Perth to one
Gilbert of Glassary. The attendant witnesses remained the
same from the earlier charters in Dumbarton two weeks prior.
Two weeks later on May 28, 1346, David issued a charter to
Bartholomew Loen and his wife, Philippa Mowbray, concerning a
barony in the sheriffdom of Edinburgh. Robert Steward,
Malcolm Fleming, and Thomas Charteris appeared as witnesses
again, with the notable additions of Maurice Moray (now styled
earl of Stratherne) and David Hay the constable of Scotland.186
David disappeared from note again until July 1, 134 6, when he
surfaced at Edinburgh to issue letters patent of pardon and a
grant to one Mary Stirling.187
From Dumbarton on August 27, 134 6, David inspected a
charter with witnesses identical to the charter he issued on
184 Webster, P. 134.
185 Webster, pp. 134-136.
May 5, 1346.188 On September 1, 1346, from Edinburgh David
issued a charter to John Graham.189 On September 8, 134 6,
David issued a charter in preparation of the campaign in
England. He made Patrick Fleming sheriff of Tweeddale in fee
and heredity, including the leadership of the men in the
sheriffdom.190 After July when David ravaged England with his
cousin John Randolph, David prepared for a more serious
campaign in England. Peace, ever elusive between the Scots
and English, failed to preside over the borders more so than
any other part of Scotland.
Part of the absence of David’ s cartulary evidence may be
accounted for with military action. David and Randolph had
indeed probed northern England in July. As the Lanercost
chronicler mentions, “David King of Scots entered England
under the banner of the Earl of Moray, harrying Cumberland
with slaughter and fire, and returning to Scotland with great
droves of cattle without any loss to his army.”191 Edward III
left for France with an army to fight against the French at
about the same time as the Scots expedition into England.
This accounts for the Scots’ ability to walk in, take what
they wanted and leave without a scratch. It was undoubtedly
196 Webster, pp. 136-137.
*87 Webster, p. 137.
^6e Webster, p. 138.
109 Webster, p. 139.
Webster, A grant of this type this early in David’s reign is unusual.
He did not normally grant sheriffdom’s in heredity
19~ The Chronicle of Lanercost. Trans by Herbert Maxwell. Pp. 326-331.
this experience that encouraged David to plan another foray,
this time in October.
“The strongest and best-organized expedition launched
from Scotland for many years began on 7 October 134 6, three
days after the fall of Poitiers.”‘1″92 Scotland’s military-
strength lay in the ability of its commanders to assess the
means necessary to relieve the English either of their
possessions at home, or of their possessions in Scotland.
When forced to battle, the Scots preferred to run away, taking
everything in their path with them. They had neither the
manpower nor the equipment to withstand assaults by the
English that amounted to much more than normal border raiding.
When they did force an issue to open battle, there had to be a
matter of the utmost import or urgency. David’s descent into
England came as “a direct response to Edward Ill’s campaign in
France : an opportunity for plunder and revenge presented by
the King’s absence, and the long-delayed answer of the
Scottish King to Philip VI’s desperate pleas for help.”193
In attacking England, whether to aid France in her
struggle or to advance Scotland’s own, the young king in this
instance had to aid the noble that aided him so well in the
mid-1330’s to the mid-1340’s. William Douglas the Knight of
Liddesdale held title to the land of Liddesdale, but did not
192 Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle,
(Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), p. 550.
as yet hold the fortress of that place. David paused for
three days outside the fortress to capture it and slaughter
the defenders, including the commander Walter de Selby who
begged for the right to confession as befit his station but
was refused and immediately beheaded.194
Sumption castigates David for being more courageous then
wise in his command of the Scots on the campaign.195 Citing as
evidence the fact that the Scots stopped off to capture the
fortress at Liddesdale, Sumption scorns David’s lack of
willingness to proceed into England where serious raiding
could be done before any English could arrive. If that
David’s goal had been to achieve a military conquest of
northern England, this surely would have been the correct path
to follow. However, it is obvious that conquest was not his
intention at all.
As Sumption himself points out, Carlisle reputedly had
walls that barely stood of their own accord.196 Should David
have desired to conquer northern England, surely Carlisle was
the place to start. The English put less care into the
maintenance and care of this city than they did Berwick, which
they took back from the Scots in the early campaigns in the
1330’s. Holding Carlisle (and certainly razing it) may have
*9j Sumption, p. 550.
“9”1 Lanercost. pp. 331-332. This chronicle provides quite a colorful
representation of David, as he and “the devil” (p.332) led the Scots into
195 Sumption, p. 550.
been easier also. It sat quite close to the recently
recovered Scottish Marches, able to be resupplied by several
well protected Scottish strongholds along the coast and over
the borders in Scotland. While Carlisle would easily have
fallen and been fairly easy to resupply, David chose to take
payment and pass them by. David’s aim was clearly to cause as
much inconvenience and fiscal damage to Edward III as he
This meant raiding the countryside, looting wealthy towns
and monasteries. An opportunity such as this, with Edward III
away in France with one of the largest armies he ever
assembled, gave David nearly all the encouragement he needed
to strike into England. Scottish attacks on England within
the last year, most notably on October 25, 1345 and in July
134 6, provided support for this view. The attack in October
1345 and its response by the English, amounted to little more
than the burning of Gillesland and Penrith in Cumberland, and
Dumfries in Scotland (on December 15, 1345 by the English) .198
But, as mentioned previously, Randolph’s expedition brought
back great numbers of cattle from the harrying of Cumberland
and the surrounding territory, giving the illusion that
England had no one left in it for defence.
^ Sumption, p. 550.
lS/ The Scots most certainly waited to set out on their expedition to hear
the news from France concerning the Battle of Crecy, a devastating loss to
the French on August 26, 134 6.
196 Lanercost, pp. 325-326.
It is not my intention to describe the Battle of
Neville’s Cross in any detail in this work.199 However, a
brief description is necessary. The numbers of the troops
involved as well as the sequence of events are in dispute not
only by contemporary scholarship, but also by the chroniclers
of the fourteenth century. What started out as a grand
undertaking by the Scottish king ending in something less than
“On October 6 1346, the Scottish host mustered at Perth.
Only two notable magnates seem to have been absent – Earl
Malise of Caithness and Orkney and John of the Isles.”200 What
might have been an impressive number of Scots was greatly
reduced by the Scots’ inability to put aside their
differences, even in the face of such an opportunity to win
glory and booty for all involved. William earl of Ross used
the opportunity to settle an old score with a rival, Ranald
MacRuaridh201 who had brought with him a contingent of people
from the Outer Isles.202 The earl ordered assassins to
eliminate Ranald as Ranald quartered himself at Elcho abbey.
“At this ill omen men deserted xin gret rowtis.'”203 The
199 For a recent account, see Kelly DeVries, Infantry Warfare in the Early-
Fourteenth Century. Professor DeVries describes the battle as best one may
considering the ambiguity one has to deal with when using the chronicles of
^00 Nicholson, p. 14 6.
201 Reginald son of Roderick mentioned previously in this work.
202 Nicholson, p. 146.
203 Nicholson, p. 146.; Bower, vol. 7, pp. 253-263.; Wyntoun, vol. 6, pp.
176-179.; Lanercost, pp. 335-342.
number of men reaching the battlefield reported by the
chroniclers varied greatly from two thousand to eighty
thousand Scots. DeVries gives the number of English as being
no more than eight thousand, but includes cavalry, infantry
and archers in that figure.204 He also states that the Scots
outnumbered the English, a fact unlikely but possible.
David and his Scots attempted to take the high ground and
wait for the English to approach. However, a continuing hail
of arrows convinced the Scots they had no choice but to
abandon their positions and attack in an attempt to dislodge
the English from their own position on high ground. To do
this the Scots had to run the gauntlet of archers the English
typically had flanking their infantry. By the time the Scots,
those that survived the rush of arrows, reached the English,
they were no match for a firmly planted, uphill opponent.
Upon seeing the disaster unfold, Robert the Steward and
Patrick, earl of March, abandoned their king with the bulk of
the army, leaving the king and the bulk of the nobility that
came with him to fend for themselves. 205 John Coupland
captured David II for the English after David knocked out two
of Coupland’s teeth. Nearly all of the rest of the nobility
with David either died in battle or followed him into
captivity. Among those killed were John Randolph earl of
204 Devries. p. 181.
205 Nicholson, p. 147.; Lanercost, pp. 336-342.
Moray, Maurice Moray earl of Strathearne, and the constable,
marshal, and chamberlain of Scotland.206
A disaster on this scale might seem to spell the end of
the Scots, especially considering Edward Ill’s rather martial
view of Anglo-Scots relations. But the Scots had suffered
through catastrophes before, such as at Halidon Hill. To be
sure, the door now lay open for the English to displace the
Scottish lords that managed to retrieve their lands during the
previous six years of guerilla warfare, and retrieve them they
did. Unfortunately for the English, the siege of Calais
remained of paramount importance thereby depriving them of the
opportunity to make a first-rate effort at re-establishing
English administration throughout lowland Scotland. Instead,
they relied on the marginally effective Edward Balliol, who in
May 1347 started out for Scotland from Carlisle with an army
to recover what he could. On January 26, 1347 Edward Ill’s
son Lionel engaged both Sir Henry Percy and Sir Ralph Neville
to serve under Balliol for one year with accompanying men-at-
arms and mounted archers.207 By mid-summer, the English had
entered Scotland to do what damage they could.
Their raid accomplished much less than hoped for. The
English recovered parts of lowland Scotland, some of which
they physically held and some of which paid tribute (and/or
206 Fordun, p. 358.
taxes). Roxbourgh went over to England again, along with
parts of Teviotdale, Annandale, Nithsdale, Tweeddale, Ettrick
Forest and Galloway. 208 Other territories subject to English
administration included, the sheriffdoms of Berwick, Peebles,
Roxbourgh and Dumfries. Jedburgh and Selkirk Forests joined
Ettrick Forest as temporary English property.205 Still, the
important castles of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dunbar, all held
by the Scots, prevented the English from re-occupying all of
lowland Scotland. Moreover, the English did not engage in a
long drawn out campaign, the way they had in 1335, to crush
the Scots once and for all and bring them to heel. Nor could
they, considering the demands on manpower made by Edward’s
battles in France. Mostly punitive in nature, the raid by the
English accomplished the task of returning some of the richest
portions of the borders to English control for enough time and
in enough places to nearly eliminate the Scots’ desire to
cross the border in force again for many years. For the rest
of David II’s and into Robert II’s reign, the English Percy
and Neville families attempted to control access to the
zC’ Bain, vol. 3, p. 269. Percy was to have one hundred of each troop type
and Neville eighty.
^os Wynton, vol 6. pp. 186-187.
‘cs Nicholson, p. 148. It is in these areas that one may see the most
activity in the years of David’s captivity. Much of this land belonged to
the Douglas family, who with the capture of the Knight of Liddesdale was
about to gain another champion in the name of William, the future first
Earl of Douglas.
borders and keep the Scots divided enough to eliminate them as
an international threat.210
David II lost his kingdom and his freedom in the
aftermath of the Battle of Neville’s Cross. John Copeland his
captor on January 20, 1347, became a banneret and received an
annuity of five hundred pounds for his efforts.211 Some other
captives, including Malcolm Fleming and William Douglas the
Knight of Liddesdale accompanied David from their temporary
holdings of Roxburgh., Bamburgh, Newcastle-on-Tyne and Werk
castles to their new lodgings in the Tower of London.212
Robert the Steward, who safely escaped the battle with Patrick
Dunbar the earl of March, assumed the title of Lieutenant of
the kingdom and attempted to put together a government in the
wake of the disaster.
The first evidence of the Steward’s government comes from
Renfrew on June 9, 1348, where he instructed the sheriff of
Dumbarton “not to levy exactions from the men of the abbey of
Paisley in the sheriffdom of Lennox contrary to the agreement
already made with the abbey.”213 Wyntoun states that after the
2*° Certainly this was not policy for these border lords, merely a by-
product of their efforts to hold lands in this area given them by the
English king. The Percys in particular held key areas in and around
Ettrick forest, lands giiren to the Douglas family by the Scottish king,
Bain, vol. 3, p. 269.
2~~ Bain, vol. 3, pp. 268-272. No evidence shows that these individuals
traveled with the king. It, however, should be taken that they traveled at
about the same time and certainly by March 7, 1347, the date of notice for
payment to John Darcy the price of twenty shillings a day for their
213 Webster, p. 141.
Steward was chosen and made warden, he made sheriffs, bailies
and other officials including keepers of important castles.
Robert appointed one William Moray as keeper of Edinburgh
Castle on his reputation as being one stout man.
Unfortunately for William, great riots ensued between him and
the men of the country. Thereafter when William214 died at
Dirleton, Robert appointed Sir David Lindsay who apparently
caused no problems and kept the town well.
Nicholson states that David II had “no machinery to
enforce his will.”215 While it may be true that absence
encouraged government in the lax style of the Steward, David
apparently did not remain totally out of touch. He could do
little to alleviate conditions such as those that existed in
“where the sheriff was one of those appointed
by the Steward … and … there was administrative
chaos.”216 “For the sheriff did not account for any
issues of his own court and asserted that there were
none; he had obtained practically nothing from
various lands set to ferm; his total receipts for
the year 1347-8 came to only nineteen pounds seven
shillings eight pence – and this sum was assigned to
him for his fee.”217
However, David was not totally without recourse.
Imprisonment did not preclude David’s making the
occasional trip back to Scotland, presumably to attempt to
2″ Wyntoun. vol. 6, pp. 188-191.
Nicholson, p. 149.
21c Nicholson, p. 149.
217 Nicholson, p. 149.; see also Rotuli Scaccarrii, vol. 1, pp. 542-544 and
pp. clxxiii – clxiv.
arrange his release and ransom. The first of these came
before he moved to the Tower, in December of 134 6. On
December 17, 134 6, from Finavon (near Forfar, approximately
some thirty miles north east of Dundee) David issued letters
patent to his justiciars and other officials to not exact
tallages or prises in the lands of the abbey of Arbroath.218
Less than a year later on November 12, 1347, at Dundee, David
issued letters ordering the new chamberlain to banish all
Flemings from Scotland and to appoint a Scottish staple at
England performed well in France. Calais fell and Edward
raided nearby territory using Calais as a base of operations.
By September 134 7, however, both the French and English
operated from a standpoint of near fiscal exhaustion:
Philip VI arrived in Amiens from Point-Sainte-
Maxence early in September to find the turnout poor
and the war treasury empty. Morale was
exceptionally low. Even in the provinces close to
Calais, which were directly threatened by the
invaders, recruitment had to be backed up by threats
of imprisonment and forfeiture among noblemen and
commoners alike. In Normandy the collection of the
new hearth tax destined to pay for the new army
encountered serious resistance which in some places
had to be repressed by armed force. Philip put off
the date of the muster by a month to 1 October
Webster, p. 139.
219 Webster, p. 140.
“20 Sumption, p. 584.
England’s situation, while somewhat better due to their recent
victories, suffered some unexpected jolts. From the simple
mechanics of occupation, such as food and water, to the
mechanics of encouraging and transporting troops to France
after they had already returned home, military action became
more problematic than Edward had foreseen.221 Payment became
an even more serious issue : “An attempt was made to anticipate
it with a fresh round of forced loans, the third in six
months. It was extremely badly received.”222
Two further incidents helped the English consider the
solution of a temporary truce. In September, and English
force under the Earl of Warwick was caught unaware by the
garrison of Saint-Omer reinforced by its citizens and put to
flight. 223 At sea, a small fleet of ten ships heading toward
Calais with supplies and the wives of some of the English
combatants was set upon by the French privateer, Marant, and
captured in its entirety.224
All this brought the English and the French to the
bargaining table with less resistance on both parts. By
September 28, 1347, an agreement had been signed recognizing a
temporary truce until July 7, 1348 .225 The actual truce, due
to the advent of the Black Death, lasted much longer. England
22\ Sumption, p. 584.
Sumption, p. 584.
223 Sumption, p. 584.
224 Sumption, p. 584.
enjoyed the advantage in being allowed to maintain their
current positions in all territories engaged in the conflict,
including Scotland. 226 Flanders preserved its independence for
the moment and both sides vowed to avoid any discourse with
each other’s confederates and any attempt to threaten or tempt
them for their own benefit.227
Philip received the worst end of the deal, since he could
do nothing to punish or reconcile the traitors of 134 6-47.
The Flemings also gained free access to trade and travel in
France. It was undoubtedly this fact that encouraged David II
to expel all Flemings from Scotland when he reached Dundee in
November, 1347. While David was a captive, he was neither
ignorant of international events, nor totally impotent to do
something about them. It was the everyday governance of the
kingdom that required his continual presence, something that
he could not provide even with the trips to Scotland he made
during the term of his captivity.
An examination of the next eleven years of David’s
captivity could not be complete without discussing the terms
and events around the conditions of his release. This will
follow in a later chapter. The bulk of the information
available about David II during this period revolves around
the various deals he and others attempted to make with Edward
225 The Scots resigned themselves to the prospect of border raiding, and not
even much of that until after the plague had ravaged their land in 1348-9.
III for his release. To understand the politics of his
release, one must also understand the events of the period
itself as well as the players in it. One common conception of
David’s captivity is that he spent nearly the entire captivity
in an English prison. Evidence from the letters patent and
charter confirmations dispute that view.
According to charter evidence, David II made regular
though infrequent appearances in Scotland throughout his term
of imprisonment. The letters patent banishing the Flemings
from Scotland were only the first evidence attesting to a
string of appearances made by the Scottish king. A charter-
witnessed on July 20, 1348, to the bishop and chapter of
Aberdeen was issued at Forfar. 228 Three months later letters
to James Sandilands were sent from Edinburgh, on October 20,
1348 . “5 The next appearance on record took place at
parliament at Dundee on May 15, 1350, nearly two years
later.”30 Eighteen months after that David issued letters
patent to the Scottish chancellor on November 14, 1351, from
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, very close to the Scottish border.231 The
following year on February 29, 1352, David confirmed charters
issued by Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus; Duncan, earl of Fife;
Sumption, p. 585.
~~J Sumption, p. 585.
^ Webster, p. 142.
Webster, p. 142.
Webster, pp. 143-144 .
z31 Webster, pp. 144-145.
and Robert the Steward to Robert Erskine at Scone.23″ A week
later on March 5, 1352, David II issued more letters from
Scone, this time forbidding fairs at Brechin, Fourdon, Coupar
Abbey, the church of Alyth, Kettins, Kirriemuir and anywhere
else that might damage the burgh of Dundee.”3″‘
On March 6, 1352, David II inspected a false charter
supposedly of David I to the burgesses of Montrose.”34 Over a
week later, David issued letters patent to his justiciars
concerning the protection of the rights of Arbroath abbey on
the customs of Arbroath.235 After approximately eighteen
months, on October 10, 1353, David issued letters patent at
Dumbarton for the confirmation of William Meldrum. 23° David
stayed in Scotland for quite some time on this occasion for
one finds him at Berwick on November 4, 1353, and Edinburgh on
December 9, 1353.237
Of all the apparent trips to Scotland David II made, only
once did the Edward III acknowledge his departure. A memo of
instruction dated March 28, 1353, to his keeper at the time
ordered him to allow David II freedom on good security until
Pentecost. It appears David remained at large longer than
that if he was in Edinburgh on December 9 of the same year.
Webster, pp. 145-146.
Webster, pp. 147-150.
Webster, pp. 14 9-150.
Webster, p. 150.
~26 Webster, p. 150.; John Maitland Thomson, ed., The Register of the Great
Seal of Scotland, vol. 1. (Edinburgh: General Register House, 1912), app.
1, p. 500.
By 1354, William Douglas, the son of Archibald the
Tyneman, one time Guardian and loser of the Battle of Halidon
Hill, made his reappearance not only in the political
machinations of the kingdom, but also in charters. David
issued a charter to Douglas on February 12, 1354 .238 From
Brechin on February 28, 1354, the king confirmed charters from
Duncan, earl of Fife, and William, lord of Douglas, to
Beatrice Douglas and James Sandilands respectively. 239 David
issued one more charter from Brechin on March 31, 1354, to one
Malcolm, son of Duncan. The next day he moved to
Inverkeithing where held council with some of his chief
On August 20, 1354, David appeared in Edinburgh. March
18, 1355, found him at Perth inspecting a charter of his
marischal, William Kieth.241 By April 16, 1355, the king was
at Cupar. Not until September 8, 1356, did David II show up
again, and this time at Perth for the inspection of a charter
of one William Troup.”42 On January 17, 1357, the year of his
Webster, pp. 151-152.
Hi Webster, p. 154.
Webster, pp. 153-154.
Webster, pp. 154-159. By looking at witness lists for this date and the
inspections and confirmations performed, one finds many of the individuals
who would be important in the next portion of David’s reign. They include
Robert the Steward, the Bishops of Aberdeen, Brechin, Saint Andrews,
Dunkeld and Dunblane, Patrick earl of March, Malcom Fleming earl of
Wigtown, Willian earl of Sutherland, William Livingston, Robert Erskine,
John Preston and the clerk Robert of Dumbarton. (Preston and the earl of
Sutherland do not feature significantly in the charter evidence in the rest
of David’s reign).
Webster, pp. 160-164.
Webster, pp. 166-167.
eventual release, he was present at council at Perth. David
was again at Perth on July 14, 1357, long enough to issue two
confirmations, one to John Sandilands and one to Newbattle
abbey.243 In October with his full release imminent, David
issued letters patent from Berwick directing the archdeacon of
Moray to submit to the orders of the bishops of St. Andrews,
Caithness, and Brechin (on October 3), and letters inspecting
the treaty being drawn up for his release (on October 5) .244
“On October 7, 1357, … King David returned to his realm a free
The negotiations for David II’s release had been long and
tortuous, encompassing eleven years, creating some ill will at
home with some of David’s nobles in Scotland, and had been
influenced by not only the immediate parties concerned, but by
international players as well.246 It is not my intention to
discuss the ransom at this point; that discussion will be
saved for a later chapter. However, one finds it necessary to
discuss the problem of David’s movement during his captivity
and the consequences on his kingship of such sporadic attempts
at government during his eleven-year internment.
The appearance of David II in Scotland on the occasions
listed above creates the particular problem of either
ascertaining the veracity of the places of issuance listed in
243 Webster, pp. 170-171.
24″ Webster, pp. 172-173.
those letters or charters, or verifying David’s location in
England through independent sources. On at least one
occasion, on 6 September 1351, Edward III issued writs to
northern officials, the constable of Nottingham castle and the
sheriff of York, to receive hostages for David II as he would
be traveling to Scotland on matters concerning his ransom.247
By 14 November 1351, David had reached Newcastle, from where
he sent the letters patent to the chancellor of Scotland
David apparently returned to captivity in England
sometime after his issuance of letters patent on 13 March
1352. Edward even let him stay free near Newcastle or Berwick
until Whitsuntide in order to see if another arrangement might
be made with the Scottish nobility, one of a less diplomatic
and a more martial solution. Edward hoped to tempt those
Scots resistant to the solution he desired into open rebellion
against David, whereby David might enforce his will upon a
Over the next five years, David II appeared in Scotland
issuing charters and letters approximately six times.”50 The
Nicholson, p. 163
Such as the French and the Church.
Bain, vol. 3. p. 285.
24* See p. 120, footnote 231.
249 This attempt came to naught. The Scots, led by some of the most
powerful nobles, notably Robert the Steward and his faction, simply refused
to endorse the solution.
“d5u This number depends on how long he was freed at any one time. Some of
the periods where he appeared in Scotland only a few months apart may have
been the same instance. However extended absences from the Tower would
chronicles are silent as to most of David’s movements with
several exceptions. Henry Knighton, the English chronicler
notes his movements in 1352 and 1353, although Knighton shows
particular pro-English bias.251 English governmental documents
provide some corroboration to the excursions made by David in
1352. Scottish chronicler’s remain silent as to David’s
location during the years of his captivity. The problem of
David’s appearance in Scotland throughout his captivity raises
some interesting questions.
We know that kings in captivity were released on occasion
to see to the collection of their ransom, as were other
members of the nobility. Another example during the same
period is the King of France John II, who, captured at the
Battle of Poitiers by the English, was released to see to his
ransom for up to a year. Other nobles captured at the Battle
of Neville’s Cross also made an attempt to raise their own
ransoms after being released temporarily for just such a
Edward III certainly had no problem going against the
wishes of his own parliament in attempting to arrange a
certainly have been noticed by more than just the king of England and may
have proven problematic.
G. H. Martin, ed. and trans., Knighton’s Chronicle. (Oxford: Clarendon
Pçess. 1995), pp. 120-123.
William Douglas, notorious to the English as one of the staunchest foes
made such an attempt. He was subsequently released and restored to his
Scottish castle at Hermitage at the explicit orders of Edward III. In 1351
Douglas journeyed to Scotland primarily to discuss terms for David’s
release, but must also have attempted arrangements of his own for he was
favorable solution to the captivity of the Scottish nobility.
“When the English parliament met in March 1348 it was made a
condition of taxation xthat David Bruce, William Douglas, and
the other chief men of Scotland, are in no manner to be set
free, either for ransom or upon their word of honour.'”’53 The
questions remain: why was David II released as often as he
appears to have been? How was his release accomplished in the
instances previously outlined without the knowledge of his
captors’ government? And lastly, why are the chronicler’s
silent on this issue? It is not the purpose of this work to
examine these questions, but future work must be done in this
area to provide the answers to this problem.
Another problem of the period, one that cannot be
overlooked, is the effect of the plague upon the Scots.
Scotland suffered the plague throughout the lowlands much like
any other Western country, losing up to a third of its
population. At first the Scots saw the plague strike the
English and sought to take advantage of their dire situation
of the English. Knighton provides an interesting view:
The Scots, hearing of the cruel plague amongst
the English, attributed it to the avenging hand of
God, and took it up as an oath, as a common report
came to English ears, and when they wished to swear
they would say xBy the filthy death of England’….
And thus the Scots, believing God’s dreadful
released the following year under interesting circumstances that will be
discussed in a future chapter.
^”3 Nicholson, p. 156; Rotuli Parliamentorum ut et Petitiones et Placita in
Parliamento. vol IT. pp. 200-201. 1783.
judgement to have descended upon the English,
gathered in the forest of Selkirk ready to overrun
the whole kingdom of England. And a fierce
pestilence arose and blew a sudden and monstrous
death upon the Scots, and some 5,000 of them died in
a short time, and the rest of them, some fit and
some enfeebled, prepared to make their way home….254
The Scots felt the problem of rising prices and manpower
shortages the same as everyone else. Europe as a whole, and
Scotland, England and France in particular, canceled military
plans for the next several campaigning seasons on any scale
other than small raids due to the shortage of goods and
manpower, especially that of the clergy. The next outbreak of
plague reached Scotland in 1363 and presented challenges of a
Scotland’s political fortunes changed after 134 6 to
mostly reflect the character of the Lieutenant, Robert the
Steward. Out of the lack of leaders another William Douglas,
the godson of the knight of Liddesdale and heir to the vast
Douglas lands of Sir James Douglas, his uncle, 255 rose to
assume the mantle of leadership in the war along the border
with the English. For his efforts, David II made him the
first earl of Douglas in 1358, shortly after his return from
captivity in 1357. This Douglas also acquired the dubious
254 Knighton, pp. 100-103.
25″ This is the “Good Sir James,” one of the heroes of the War for Scottish
Independence fought by Robert Bruce in the first quarter of the fourteenth
distinction of slaying the Knight of Liddesdale shortly after
his release in 1352.256
The young lord of Douglas so pressed the borders that
even Balliol in his ancestral lands of Galloway did not find
enough support in order to maintain himself as king in
Scotland. 257 On January 20, 1356, Edward Balliol gave over his
claim to the Scottish crown to Edward III in favor of the
payment of his debts and an annuity of two thousand pounds for
life.258 No doubt, with little advantage to keeping David II
any longer, Balliol’s resignation encouraged Edward III to end
the unprofitable business of the Scottish king’s captivity.
David II returned to a much-changed Scotland with a list of
friends and a short but soon-to-grow list of enemies. The
heavy work of government lay ahead.
256 The Knight of Liddesdale did little to endear himself to David’s cause
in the end as he apparently sold out to become Edward Ill’s man, even
agreeing to fight for him given a months notice. See Nicholson, p.159.
2″ By 1354 Balliol appear to have lost his birthplace of Buittle in
Galloway. See Nicholson p. 161; Nicholson lists R.C. Reid, Bruce Webster,
and C.A. Ralegh Radford and their corresponding articles in the Transaction
of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Anitquarian Society,
vol xxxv. ‘Edward de Balliol’, pp. 38-63; ‘The English occupation of
Dumfriesshore in the Fourteenth Century’ pp. 64-80; ‘Balliol’s Manor House
on Hestan Island’, pp. 33-37.
256 Bain, vol 3, pp. 28 9-290.
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
The four years prior to David II’s capture in 1346 found
the problems of a young and inexperienced king, a country not
sure of its borders, and a people exhausted from nearly a
decade of unceasing warfare.123 Unfortunately the chronicles
fail to mention much of David II’s activities during this
period until the Battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. One may
ascertain his location by again turning to the charter records
found in the Regesta Requm Scottorum. David had people to
reward and a country to reclaim.
From Holyrood monastery in Edinburgh, David issued the
first charters of 1342. On January 6, 1342, David granted the
barony of Gorton to John Preston and to William Douglas124 the
barony of Dalkeith.125 Patrick Dunbar, earl of March, Maurice
de Moray styled by the king “our cousin,” the chancellor,
Thomas Charteris, and Philip Meldrum, John Bonville and
Malcolm Ramsay (all three knights) witnessed both documents.
William Douglas acquired the lands of the deceased John
Mowbray thirteen days later on January 19, 1342.126 In this
instance Robert the Steward (seneschal of Scotland and nephew
^ Longer if one includes the wars of Robert I.
During this period of the fourteenth century, there were many Williams
in the Douglas family. In fact the Douglas extended family was fairly
large. It is unclear which William Douglas that received the barony of
Dalkeith, but it seems probable that it was the Knight of Liddesdale, who
was heavily rewarded during this period. The Knight’s godson, William, had
not yet become active on the political scene.
125 Webster, pp. 87-88.
126 Webster, pp. 88-89.
to the king) and John Randolph the earl of Moray witnessed the
The following month, the king traveled to Aberdeen for
the meeting of parliament. At parliament between February 14
and 16, William Douglas (the Knight of Liddesdale) realized
his landed ambitions. The council removed the lands of
Liddesdale from William Douglas (son of the former Guardian
Archibald Douglas killed at Halidon Hill and godson to William
Douglas, the William so militarily active against the English
in Scotland) and awarded them to Robert the Steward. Steward
in turn granted them to William Douglas (the Knight of
Liddesdale) in exchange for the earldom of Atholl.12 ‘ At this
point William began to style himself the Knight of
A week later on February 21, 1342, still in council at
Aberdeen, David turned his attention to the burgh itself. He
at once confirmed the liberties given to Aberdeen by previous
kings.129 By doing so, David cemented his previous ties on
Aberdeen and illustrated the illegitimacy of the English
regime to the burgesses. He set an example for the rest of
the burghs yet to be returned to the king’s grace that they
i27 Webster, pp. 89-90.
lzS I have been calling this William the knight of Liddesdale throughout the
paper so far to avoid too much confusion. It is at this point the title
“9 Webster, p. 90.
would have the same privileges they had had prior to the
coming of the English.
The country and David II lacked a recent military victory
with which to generate more momentum. David supplied the
victory with devastating raids on Northumberland as far south
as the Tyne after Henry, earl of Lancaster (who resided in
Berwick at the time as a projection of English power into the
region) , disbanded his troops early in the month of February
(February 2) .130 Not to be outdone, on March 30, 1342,
Alexander Ramsay captured Roxburgh Castle and received custody
of the same (an event that unfortunately shortened his life at
the hands of that ambitious Scot, the Knight of Liddesdale).
From the parliament at Aberdeen, David moved to the
monastery of Kinloss by the March 29, 1342, where he issued
letters to his Chancellor regarding grants made by previous
abbots of Lindores abbey that parliament revoked.131 After
staying at Kinloss for at least a week, until April 4, 1342,
David moved on to Kildrummy, one of the castles that held out
against the English and Balliol during his absence. On
April 14, 1342, David directed payments of royal revenues in
the sheriffdoms of Banff and Aberdeen to the bishop of
Aberdeen. No witnesses appear in these documents and David
issued no actual charters until the end of May.
1’° Nicholson, p. 143; Gray, pp. 112-113.
13i Webster, p. 91-91.
Many of those who regularly had witnessed his acts
traveled to England to treat with representatives of Edward
III between March and May of 1342. Edward III issued a “safe
conduct on March 20, 1342 for Adam bishop of Brechin, Patrick
earl of March, William de Douglas, Thomas Charters and even
William Bullock with an entourage of 100 horse and 200 other
persons to treat with his commissioners on David’s behalf.”132
One possible result of this meeting may have been Edward III
giving official permission for the residents of the Isle of
Man to resume trade with the Scots.133
For roughly the next six weeks David’s location does not
appear in charters or chronicles. However, on May 29, 1342,
from Dundee David issued a charter that had far ranging
consequences, beyond those which he could have foreseen. Hugh
Douglas, until now the heir to his older brother’s134 lands and
the title of lord of Douglas, resigned his lands and title in
favor of his younger brother Archibald’s135 children, failing
them to the Knight of Liddesdale and his heirs male, failing
them to the Archibald (the natural son of James) and his
legitimate male heirs, failing them to return to the heirs of
132 Bain, vol. 3, pp. 250-252.
133 Bain, vol. 3, p. 255.
13] The “Good Sir James” Douglas, one of the heroes of Robert I’s reign.
133 The onetime and short lived Guardian of Scotland who fell at Halidon
Hill in 1333.
Hugh Douglas.136 Several possible reasons exist for such a
resignation of extensive lands.
First, prior to Hugh receiving the lands and title he
acted as a church official. His administration of lands that
belonged to the English during much of this time had lacked
luster. Hugh did not partake in any known military
adventures. Hugh’s name does not appear in any charters or
witness lists. He acted with such mediocrity, he earned the
epithet of “the Dull” and indeed had no taste for rulership.
Secondly, this may have been an attempt to placate the young
William Douglas, whose godfather the Knight of Liddesdale had
stolen that land from him, the rightful heir, in parliament
during the month of February, 1342. Thirdly, it may also have
been an attempt to place the Knight of Liddesdale in a
legitimate line of succession to which he had no claim.137
The charter had enough impact for the kingdom that it was
witnessed by some very important individuals, including the
bishops of Aberdeen and Brechin, Robert Steward (the seneschal
and king’s nephew); Duncan, earl of Fife; Patrick Dunbar, earl
of March; Thomas Charteris and (his first appearance) Robert
Keith, the marishal of Scotland. Several of these men sat as
I3c Webster, pp. 93-95.
1-37 It 1s entirely possible that this last reason may be the best. The
Knight’s avarice in gathering to him lands on the borders is well
documented at this point. The addition of the Douglas family lands would
have made him incredibly powerful. And as will be seen shortly, the Knight
had no restraint from marching up and removing an ally from a position he
thought should belong to him.
either the principle councilors to the king, as in the case of
Charteris, Keith, and possibly the earl of March, or as
friends to some of the parties involved , e.g., Robert the
Steward,138 who had helped the Knight of Liddesdale acquire
ownership of the Liddesdale.
As a consequence of this charter, David II made quite
possibly the most powerful noble in Scotland of the fourteenth
century approximately seventeen years after his death in 1371,
Archibald “the Grim” Douglas, David II’s future protégé. In
spite of his desires, the Knight of Liddesdale did not live
long enough to see any dreams of the lands reverting to him
come to fruition and perhaps through these machinations aided
in bringing about his own demise.139 For the moment, however,
the Knight appeared untouchable as his most infamous exploit
Two days before the Knight’s exploit, on June 18, 1342,
David II awarded his favorite, the faithful Malcolm Fleming,
land in Galloway in free barony in addition to his already
vast estates that accompanied the earldom of Wigtown. Awarded
from Restennet in the north of Scotland, the witness list
“38 Robert the Steward, while the seneschal of Scotland at this time I dc
not count as one of the king’s primary councilors. David appears to use
him as a necessary evil rather than a cherished nephew. While he appears
prominently in witness lists as usually the first lay witness, David most
of the time refers to him as his nephew, reserving phrases as ‘our most
cherished’ for his cousins, certainly a continual “slap in the face” to the
1 This topic will be covered later when discussing the death of the said
included many northern bishops (Aberdeeen, Ross and Brechin);
William, earl of Ross; Maurice Moray the kings cousin; William
Douglas (the Knight of Liddesdale); and the chancellor, Thomas
Two days later, on June 20, 1342,
Knight) approached Alexander Ramsay at
where Ramsay held his sheriff’s court,
him off to Hermitage castle to die.141
Furious, David II
repeatedly sent out an armed force to seize William
in person. But he, carefully avoiding traps, did
not succeed in gaining the king’s goodwill until the
king’s nephew, Robert Steward, with many
interventions and explanations of how much William
had suffered in David’s absence for the [defense
and] liberty of the kingdom, brought the king back
to a peaceable and calm attitude towards him. He
even entrusted William with the custody of the
castle of Roxburgh and the sheriffdom of
Robert the Steward must have exerted all of the influence at
his command to get Douglas off the hook. Even so, what the
chronicler’s reported about Douglas apparent patriotism and
hardship for the cause rang true, for much of the recent
advances could not have been accomplished without the Knight.
David II needed men of action with the threat of the English
still not totally quelled in the Scottish countryside.
14° Webster, P. 95.
^ Bower, pp. 152-153. Nicholson, p. 144. Wynton, pp. 164-169.
Bower, pp. 156-157.
William Douglas (the
Hawick in Teviotdale
abducted him and carted
However, Scotland no doubt had greater strength while Ramsay
remained alive. Whatever disagreements between Ramsay and
Douglas existed are not noted in the chronicles until the
explanation of his death, and then only in gross generalities.
The event causes some concern for either the accuracy of
chroniclers or the legitimacy of using the dates of issuance
for the placing of the witnesses in the lists. Restennet,
where the king issued Fleming’s charter witnessed by Douglas,
lay landlocked and over fifty miles away. To the chroniclers’
credit, the appearance of Douglas certainly appeared abrupt.
What could have prompted Douglas to take such a speedy march
from Restennet to reach Teviotdale can only be speculation.
Only a hard ride could have enabled Douglas to make such a
trip in so short a time. The distance and the time frame for
the trip make it a subject interesting for future study.
Unfortunately, the chronicles do not supply any further
information on the topic, making any discussion pure
David II then traveled to Dumbarton where on July 4,
1342, he entailed all the lands forfeited by the late Dugall
Campbell to Dugall’s brother, Gillespie.144 At the time, this
may have seemed a politic grant to make, placing the Campbells
under David’s patronage forever. Unfortunately for David,
events did not unfold for him this way. The Campbell’s,
through marriages, later allied themselves with Robert
Steward, the king’s nephew. When David returned from his
captivity, the Steward had cemented the western portion of his
power-base, which in later years he used against David.145
Following his stay at Dumbarton, David II next appeared
at Lindores abbey on August 20, 1342 to issue letters
concerning Scone abbey’s liberties.140 On August 22, 1342, he
inspected letters of Duncan, earl of Fife, in the matter of a
boundary dispute with one John Ireland concerning the barony
of Murthly.147 David II, or perhaps Duncan, earl of Fife,
showed considerable acumen in taking the opportunity to review
documents generated during his absence concerning lands
supposedly controlled by Balliol, thereby limiting the
legitimacy further of Balliol’s tenure in Scotland in a manner
similar to David’s actions for the abbeys of the north. Five
days later, on August 27, 1342, David issued letters patent
from Kildrummy to the sheriffs of Aberdeen and Banff
concerning money owed the bishop of Aberdeen.148
L”J It is unfortunate that there is no other proof of location for this trip
as it may have greatly helped any discussion of charter or chronicler
validity during this period.
^ Webster, pp. 97-98.
~4″ Robert the Steward may have not been much of a leader, but he certainly
knew how to build power. Having lived through and seen what the English
would attempt to control if they came across the border again, Robert
specifically built his power in the north and west of the kingdom, insuring
his position if the English should come again.
1″° Webster, p. 98.
1^7 Webster, p. 98.
1,8 Webster, pp. 98-99.
David appeared again in Kildrummy on November 28, 1342 to
issue letters to his Chancellor again concerning the bishop of »
Aberdeen and money owed him. From Kildrummy, David proceeded
to his stronghold of Dumbarton accompanied by Robert Steward,
Patrick Dunbar, Duncan, earl of Fife, Malcolm Fleming149 and
his chancellor, Thomas Charteris. On December 10, 1342, David
issued a charter to Holyrood abbey in Edinburgh affirming its
right to name a chaplain for the royal chapel.150
The return of David II accomplished much for Scotland
during 1342, for both the weal and woe of the kingdom.
Alexander Ramsay perished at the hands of William Douglas (the
Knight of Liddesdale) and a very able chamberlain in William
Bullock fell to the political machinations of some unknown
offended noblemen. Top advisors of David II journeyed to
England to discuss a treaty with the Scots and succeeded at
least in part. On April 10, 1342, Edward issued a warrant for
the arrest of individuals supplying arms and victuals to the
Scots, indicating that the English had a concern in this area,
but the weapons smuggling also had an impact on border
By April 29, 1342, David’s men, including William bishop
of St. Andrew, Adam, bishop of Brechin, Patrick Dunbar, John
Randolph and Thomas Charteris, sent a letter to Edward III
149 Malcolm Fleming even though he held the title of Earl of Wigtown by now
is never characterized as such in the witness lists.
referring to a truce [day] between Edward III and the king of
France. The men representing David II (brother-in-law to
Edward III and included in the truce), apparently sought the
location, date and whether it was still to be held.152
Considering the letters sent to discover the individuals
selling arms to the Scots in northern England, and the
increase of the garrison of Berwick by thirty-five men-at-
arms , seventy archers, and three knights commanding them (Sir
John Fauconberge, Sir Thomas de Rokeby, and Sir John de
Lillebourne), Edward III must have been concerned about
Scottish activity in the region.153 The loss of Roxburgh in
1342 accentuated the losses of Edinburgh and Stirling in 1341.
Edward III certainly had no desire to lose Berwick next.
The events of 1342 not only helped David consolidate
Scotland, but also created several problems for historians.
First, why was Bullock arrested and tossed into the dungeon to
starve? Second, if Bullock was such a miscreant, why was he
mentioned in the safe conduct to England at the end of March,
1342 with the rest of David’s advisor’s that traveled to
England for a Truce day? Third, how, and why, did William
Douglas (the Knight of Liddesdale) arrive at the decision to
kidnap and kill Ramsay? He left the king’s side, rode hard
150 Webster, pp. 99-100.
Bain, vol. 3, p. 252-254.
152 Bain, vol. 3, pp. 253.
153 Bain, vol. 3, pp. 252-255.
for approximately two days,154 kidnapped Ramsay and tossed him
into the tower at Hermitage castle to starve to death.
The answer to the questions concerning Bullock can only
be speculation. No evidence exists from chroniclers or
records as to the cause of his arrest other than the
accusation of treason.155 However, the possibility does exist
that Bullock may not have been as innocent as he seemed.
Bullock did not die until sometime after the trip David II’s
advisors made to England. He may have been set up either by
the English as revenge for his treachery in changing sides, or
by the Scottish nobles who were most affected by an accurate
accounting of the kingdom finances. As an answer to the
second question also, Bullock went to England as an important
member of David’s advisors. We don’t know when he came back,
but it certainly was not long after that that he found himself
in chains, giving some small bit of credence to the idea that
something happened on the trip to England to label him a
“5li If one considers that David II issued his charter during daylight hours,
and that Douglas arrived in Teviotdale to kidnap Ramsay also during the
day, he may have traveled less than two days…quite quickly on horse through
the center of Scotland.
^5S Historians such as Nicholson, and chroniclers Fordun and Bower speculate
that jealousy of his wealth and growing influence in Scotland was the
motive. If this were the case however, why would not every person of means
and growing power be a target? He certainly did not have enough personal
power to challenge Robert Steward or William Douglas, even with being a
hero of sorts for the Bruce party and the Chamberlain of the kingdom. He
may have been able to somewhat control access to David, but the kingdom
could not have been held together without the support of the nobility.
The third question, involving William Douglas, presents a
similarly difficult situation with only a slightly easier
answer. That Douglas had territorial ambitions on the border
regions there can be no doubt.156 But what possessed him to
make a speedy journey from his king’s side to Ramsay,
arresting then imprisoning him unto death by starvation?
Bower states that David had previously awarded Roxburgh to
Douglas.157 When Ramsay liberated the castle, David in a show
of fickle behavior awarded it to him rather than Douglas.
Perhaps Douglas learned about Ramsay’s reward when he appeared
on June 18, 1342, to witness one of David’s charters. One
might understand, given Douglas’s nature, his reaction. One
more problem, ominous for David at the time, presents itself
as a result of this issue. Douglas either felt that he either
had more right to determine his rewards than David, or had
little or no respect for his authority. The truth, in the
case of Douglas, must be in part both, a fact which did not
bode well for the strength of David’s future position with the
From Dunfermline at the end of 1342, David moved to
Lindores by January 2, 134 3.158 With his “most dear cousin”
John Randolph earl of Moray (lord of Annandale and the Isle of
Man also) , his nephew Robert Steward, Patrick, earl of March,
156 Consider the effort he went to to get Liddesdale while giving up the
earldom of Atholl.
his favorite Malcolm Fleming, Maurice Moray and the
chancellor, Thomas Charteris, David dealt with matters at hand
in the sheriffdom of Perth. He confirmed a charter from
Duncan, earl of Fife, to Robert Menzies. Four days later on
January 6, 1343 he confirmed a charter from Robert Bruce, a
(illegitimate) brother of the king, to the same man.159
Duncan, earl of Fife, appeared as a witness on this second
David moved to St. Andrews by March 4, 1343, and issued
letters to the abbey of Scone granting a three-year respite
from answering its debts.160 The next day, privy seal letters
were issued to the Bishop of St. Andrews to ascertain the
disposition of certain lands belonging to the abbey of Scone.
Following his stay at St. Andrews, David II traveled to
Aberdeen, where on April 30, 1343, he issued letters to his
chancellor concerning Scone’s previously mentioned respite.161
On May 1, 134 3, David II inspected a charter from John
Randolph, earl of Moray, to one John Urwell over lands
entailed to him in the sheriffdom of Elgin.162 David issued a
note concerning the entailing of the barony of Melfort to
1=7 Bower, pp. 153-157.
*5e Webster, pp. 103-106.
Webster, pp. 105-106.
lc° Webster, p. 106.
161 Webster, pp. 107-108.
162 Webster, pp. 108-109.
Archibald Campbell of Lochaw and his heirs male on the next
day, May 2, 1343.163
On May 18, 1343, David arrived at Perth to tend to still
more matters regarding Scone abbey. This time he ordered the
justiciar north of Forth, along with other officials, to pay
what they owed to the abbey, in this case from the profits of
justice in two places, Gowrie and Perthshire.
While David spent much of his first two years after
returning from France in the east and north, consolidating his
position there, he did not ignore the west. On June 6, 1343,
in Ayr David II inspected an ancient charter originally issued
to the abbey of Holyrood during the reign of David 1.164 One
week later, he issued one of the most important charters of
this period of his reign. On June 12, 1343, David II issued a
charter to John of the Isles for the islands of Islay, Gigha,
Jura, Colonsay, Mull, Tiree, Coll, and Lewis. David also
included the lands of Morvern, Lochaber, Duror and Glencoe
together with the custody of three royal castles.165 The same
day David issued another charter to Reginald son of Roderick
of the Isles for the islands of Uist, Barra, Eigg, and Rhum;
Webster, p. 109.
^ Webster, pp. 110-113.
163 Webster, pp. 113-114. The royal castles were Cairn na Burgh More, Cairn
na Burgh Beg, and Dun Chonnuill.
additionally he granted land in Garmoran (the home of this
branch of the family) .166
The gifts to John and Reginald, cousins, should have
cemented the allegiance of the Isles to the Bruce cause.
While it may have removed them from active participation
against David II in the short term, it did little to bring the
Isles firmly under the control of the king.
While the Isles presented no immediate threat to his
sovereignty in Scotland, David had to begin in earnest his own
visibility in liberating the rest of the borders from English
control. For the moment, the Scots enjoyed a truce of sorts,
enabling them to recover from the double blows of losing an
able administrator in William Bullock and a more-than-ardent
patriot in Alexander Ramsay. As Bower and Fordun stated,
“…after their deaths, sad events took place in the kingdom.”1″7
Edward III busied himself with more important problems across
the Channel in France, allowing David the freedom to continue
his work. David had not yet approached the point when
extended forays onto English soil stood to gain him much,
other than Edward Ill’s unwanted attention, which after he
received it, ended in disaster three years later.
David II remained at Ayr until at least June 30, 1343
when he inspected a grant to the Friars Preachers of Ayr from
lo6 Webster, pp. 114-115. The lands in Garmoran were Moidart, Morar,
Arisaig, and Knoydart.
his father Robert I for the hefty sum of twenty pounds per
year from the area around the town of Ayr.168 Robert Steward
and David at least temporarily appeared to resolve their
differences. David styled Robert “seneschal of Scotland and
our most dear nephew” in the witness list for the first time
in over a year.169 John Randolph earl of Moray attached to his
title “lord of Annandale and the Isle of Man,” indicating that
the Scots once again controlled these areas. Edward III
allowed a truce with and endorsed trade between the
inhabitants of the Isle and the Scots, in all things except
armor and victuals .170
Until September 17, 1343, David’s location remains
unclear. However, on that date he issued letters to the
sheriff of Perth to give sasine of Strath Gartney to one John
111 Bower, vol. 7. pp. 156-157 ; Fordun, pp.357-358.
Webster, pp. 115-116.
~ca Webster, p. 115. The last reference to Robert as “our most dear nephew”
was in the charter issued at parliament, February 16, 1342 to William
Douglas concerning the lands of Liddesdale. Whether this denotes David’s
favor or simply his fickle behavior is unknown. The nineteen year old
David did not yet have as clear a picture of his true allies as he did
shortly after he returned from captivity and resumed government of the
kingdom in 1358.
170 Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. 3, p. 255. Three years
earlier, Edward III ordered the release of the vessel and goods of the
Bishop of Man. The Bishop was to be brought to him at London, while the
“other Scottishmen” captured with him were to be detained at Great
Yarmouth. This indicates that the Bishop of Man was a Scot, and that the
original capture of the Bishop’s ship was an act consistent with the
English war against the Scots. However the issue of suzerainty over the
Isle is not an easy one to resolve. A brief discussion in the Handbook of
British Chronology, 3rd ed., p. 65. Indicates the issue is as yet
unresolved. However, given the letters issued by Edward concerning the
Isle of Man, and the earl of Moray’s insistence on using his title to
ownership over the isle, it is possible that the Isle did indeed belong at
least in some respect to the Scots. Edward’s dealings with the Isle use
the same tone he uses when discussing lands in Scotland Balliol had ceded
Logie (a man unknown to David at this time, but the father of
his future bride, Dame Margaret Logie) from Dunfermline. By-
October 31, 1343, David had moved on to Scone where he
inspected a charter of Margaret Stewart the countess of Angus
to Arbroath abbey. The marischal Robert Keith makes his first
appearance in witness lists. Other attendants included the
bishops of Glasgow, Brechin, and St. Andrews, Robert Steward,
John Randolph, David Hay (titled the constable of Scotland),
Philip Meldrum and Andrew Bothergask.171
David next appears on record at Middlebie on December 6,
1343. From Middlebie he proceeded to Stirling by December 24,
1343. In the former instance, he issued letters to royal
officials appointing royal bailies172 in Clydesdale. In the
latter he directed his foresters to provide promised stags to
Coldingham priory in his last two appearances in 1343 . 173 On
February 13, 1344 at Edinburgh David issued a charter to a
burgess of Edinburgh concerning the forfeited lands of Thomas
By parliament time at Scone, on June 10, 1344, David
issued a charter to the priory of Restenneth. Early summer
also brought an interesting problem for the young king.
to him but currently in Scottish hands. This matter is certainly one that
bears more study.
Webster, pp. 116-118.
172 Alexander Stewart, John Tunson, and Adam Carruthers were the men
appointed to hear all cases in Clydesdale concerning men of Annadale. It
is curious that David styled himself the Lord of Ananndale shortly after
John Randolph styled himself the lord of Annandale and the Isle of Man.
Sometime during the month of June or July, a man appeared from
pretending to be the son of a certain burgess of
Aberdeen, and concealing his own name, claimed to
have been in prison for fourteen years. When a
ransom had been fixed and pledges had been given for
paying the money, he with the help of many tokens
and clear evidence made many of the kingdom and
especially the common people understand and firmly
believe that he was in reality Alexander de Bruce
[illegitimate son of Edward Bruce, King Robert I’s
brother]. After various disturbances and a number
of interviews with the king and certain magnates,
fearing that he might be put to death (he said) by
those who occupied his land, he secretly withdrew
into the region of Carrick, where he was on the
king’s instructions captured and taken to Ayr as an
impostor and fraudster .174
The impostor hanged in front of Robert Steward, Malcolm
Fleming and others, but rumors persisted of his innocence,
that he told the truth about his identity.173 Sympathizers
offered the excuse for his death as being an attempt by those
who currently owned his lands to eliminate him so they might
not have to surrender them. While this type of machination
certainly does not appear unusual for the period and some of
the players involved, their exists no evidence that Alexander
Bruce did not die at Halidon Hill in 1333. 176
David traveled to Mouswald where on September 10, 1344,
he granted lands to William Carruthers, a relative of Adam
Carruthers, whom he had appointed as a royal bailie the
Webster, pp. 118-120.
174 Bower, pp. 157-159.
|75 Bower, pp. 157-159.
176 Bower, p. 248. These are notes on Bower’s (Fordun’s) text.
previous year. He did this in his capacity as lord of
Annandale. Robert Steward, David’s chancellor of Annandale
John Carruthers; Maurice Moray; Malcolm Fleming; John
Tunnegarth, David’s chamberlain of Annandale; John Stewart,
Warden of the West March, William Crichton and many others
witnessed the event.177 One may only speculate as to the
importance of this grant since David rarely served in his
capacity as lord of Annandale.178
By October 17, 1344, David wrote letters at Dumbarton to
the chamberlain of Scotland concerning payments of certain
rents to the church in Glasgow. From Stirling on November 15,
1344, he wrote more letters concerning payments to churchmen,
this time in regard to the Friars Preachers of Perth. David
issued more letters from Stirling on November 20, 1344, for
payments to Cambuskenneth abbey.179 One may surmise from all
these three letters of assignment that David actively courted
the favor of the Church at this time, specifically some of the
districts that suffered financial or other hardship during
Balliol and Edward Ill’s more direct influence.
David began dealing with other more mundane issues also.
On December 31, 134 4, from Netherdale, David addressed the
problem of counterfeiters and their attempts to
!” Webster, pp. 120-121.
178 And in this case, it is his second attempt in a year to deal not only
with Annandale in general, but also the Carruthers, who appear to be
important lords in the area.
175 Webster, pp. 121-123.
surreptitiously alter weights and measure to their benefit.
He confirmed to the burgesses of Inverness that no official
other than the chamberlain had any authority over their
weights and measures. This.letter, in light of the economic
condition of the kingdom after David’s return, is hardly
surprising. When Bullock audited the kingdom’s finances and
found them lacking, the money had to come from somewhere even
if that meant falsification of trade rates to produce larger
profits. David acted quickly to reassure the burgesses that
only he made changes of this sort in fiscal policy.
David II does not appear again on record until March 9,
1345, at Dunfermline when he confirmed the church of Fordyce
to the chapter of Aberdeen. Later that month, on March 28,
1345, he sent letters to his chamberlain, John Roxburgh, to
pay back rents due to the Church of Glasgow.180 The king still
wisely courted the favor of the church by addressing their
concerns formally when possible. In comparison, few lay
members of the aristocracy received such consideration.
In April at the king7s council in Edinburgh, David
produced an inspection of letters, and a charter confirmation
and sent letters to the sheriff of Edinburgh. On April 12,
1345, David inspected a papal bull nearly eighty years old on
the approval of the Friars Preachers holding property. On
April 14, 134 5, he confirmed a charter from John Maxwell to
the abbey of Dryburgh. On the next day, April 15, 1345, he
sent letters to the sheriff and his bailies of Haddington and
Linlithgow ordering them not to interfere with the liberties
of Dunfermline abbey. May 25, 1345, saw David sending from
Dumbarton more letters to arrange further payments to the
church of Glasgow.181
On July 1, 1345, he was back in Edinburgh issuing letters
of pardon to the burgh of Aberdeen. Nine days later on July
10, 1345, he issued from Dumbarton a charter to William
Livingstone for the barony of Callendar. Nearly two months
later on September 2, 134 5, from Edinburgh, David bestowed
upon James Sandilands the barony of Wiston that Livingstone
had previously resigned.132
During the fall of 1345, David appears to have increased
his movement throughout the kingdom.183 From early September
until the end of December, 1345, David traveled to eight
different cities. He issued charters or letters on September
28 in Dumbarton, October 6 in Lanark, October 10 in Lanark,
October 15 in Dunbar, October 18 in Dumbarton, November 4 in
Aberdeen, November 22 in Elgin. He finally returned to
Dumbarton on December 28, 1345. The king began to move more
quickly than before and made more appointments to the nobility
180 Webster, pp. 123-126.
181 Webster, pp. 125-127.
182 Webster, pp. 128-129.
during this period than to the clergy, strengthening his hold
on Scotland politically with the landed nobility and filling
the vacuum left by Disinherited or dead enemies. With some
experience under his belt, and now truly out of his minority,
David surrounded himself with his loyal adherents (for the
most part) and began to act like a king in deed as well as
name. With his faithful followers, John Randolph, Malcolm
Fleming, Philip Meldrum, Maurice Moray (recognized as the earl
of Strathearne in December, 1345), his chancellor Thomas
Charteris and even his nephew Robert Steward, David began his
plans for more aggressive action against England.
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
The year 1335 heralded great changes for the cause of
David II. For the next several years, the fortunes of the
Scots depended increasingly upon the French. As tensions grew
between the Philip VI and Edward III, the possibility existed
for the English to abandon Balliol to his own devices and take
the war to French soil in Gascony. Until that time came, the
English continued to plague the Scots in tried-and-true ways.
Edward III ordered the reconstruction of as many castles in
key areas as possible. Hard point occupation had always been
the only successful strategy in holding Scottish territory.
Edward III planned to do in Scotland as his grandfather had
done in Wales: grind his opponents into submission.
Unfortunately for Edward III, the Scots were more than up to
the challenge, having faced this same strategy many times
Nevertheless, Edward III set about rebuilding his hard
points. From 1334 to 1337, Edward III garrisoned and repaired
the towns or castles at Roxburgh, Edinburgh, Jedburgh,
Caerlaverock, Dunnotar, Lauriston, Kinneff, Bothwell,
Leuchars, St. Andrews, Perth, Cupar, Annandale, Jedburgh
Forest and Kinclaven.83 Already Edward had imparted key areas
to loyal stalwarts. The Percies and the Bohuns, major English
landholders in the north, took possession of the Jedburgh
Forest and the vale of Annandale respectively.84 However
English tactics that might have brought a whole Scotland into
submission went awry when attempting to bring a fractured
Scotland to heel.
During 1334 and 1335, Edward III and Balliol or their
agents sent armies rampaging through the lowlands and Galloway
gathering loot. Their conduct alienated enemies and allies
alike as they showed no preference in their conquest.
Additionally, the Scots saw little need to submit, for Edward
III had the choicest chunk of Scotland and remained just as
unlikely to give it away to his enemies as had the Bruce party
been likely to re-inherit the Disinherited.
Nevertheless, with the aforementioned amnesty for the
Scots until August of 1335, Edward III and Balliol struck
closest to home. Little could they have known that their own
man David of Strathbogie, Balliol’s lieutenant in the north,
sealed their fate by his brutal acts of vengeance on the Scots
who dared to make him change allegiance to the Bruce party.
Of course he viewed all the freeholders in his path as
extensions of the Bruce party and took great care in driving
Bower, vol. 7, pp. 122-123.
8″ It is interesting to note here that the Percies spent the next sixty
years fighting with Scottish Border lords (the earls of Douglas mostly)
over such areas as Jedburgh forest, occasionally asserting that they had
rights there, rights that stemmed back to this period and these
appointments which the Scottish crown naturally ignored. Annandale one may
them all before him. Strathbogie made the critical error in
the plan that might have finally allowed Edward III to assume
the title of conqueror of Scotland.
At the end of November, Strathbobie began to lay siege to
Kildrummy castle, held by the sister of the previous king,
Robert I. She was the wife of Andrew of Moray, who until that
time had resided at Bathgate and was then treating with the
English. However, upon hearing Earl David threatened his
wife, he promptly left the negotiations to relieve Kildrummy
and his wife from Strathbogie’s clutches. Witli him went
several other prominent leaders of the resistance, Patrick the
earl of March, William Douglas, Alexander Ramsay, and eight
hundred picked fighting men.85
Andrew of Moray and his party approached David of
Strathbogie with all speed after he received permission to
consider this action outside the boundaries set by the current
truce from one of Edward Ill’s councilor’s, one lord William
of Montague.86 Strathbogie met Moray in battle in the forest
Culblean on November 30, 1335. Moray overwhelmed him;
Strathbogie ended his life with his back to a tree, refusing
to yield a second time to the Bruce cause. Earl David’s death
remember belonged to the Bruce family early during Robert the Bruce’s reign
and prior to that, during the reign of the English king, Edward I.
83 The Lanercost chronicle also states that the earl of Ross accompanied
him; however I was unable to corroborate that with other sources.
86 It has been suggested by some that the policy followed here by the
English in allowing sanction for the action by Moray was merely an attempt
galvanized the Scots. The English could still be defeated and
Andrew of Moray was the man to do it. After relieving
Kildrummy, Sir Andrew proceeded to besiege Cupar Castle,
during which he called a council of the kingdom together at
Dunfermline that subsequently unanimously appointed him
Guardian for Scotland. With new life breathed into the Bruce
cause, Sir Andrew disappeared into the north beyond the
From early in 1336 until King David II’s return in 1341,
general fortune slowly favored the Scots. Even though Edward
III undertook to repair Edinburgh Castle in 1336, and indeed
the Scottish capital remained in the hands of the English
until 1341, the Scots slowly gained ground. The English faced
the war with France with growing likelihood as each year
passed, and by 1337, Edward III himself left Scotland in the
hands of lieutenants and turned his attention more fully upon
the French. Andrew Moray returned to the style of fighting so
successful for Robert I, guerrilla warfare.
By refusing to engage the English in open pitched
battles, the Scots in effect made the English come to them if
they wanted a fight. Moray chose his battles wisely,
preferring to attack English strongholds rather than to give
the English the opportunity for a stand-up fight. The success
to get the Scots to commit to another pitched battle, this time hopefully-
breaking the backs once and for all of the Scottish resistamce.
he enjoyed in 133 6 encouraged Edward III to look elsewhere for
his glorious battles. From late 1336 to early 1337, Sir
Andrew undid the efforts of Edward Ill’s building project of
the year before. By the end of 1336, Moray destroyed four
fortresses previously manned and reinforced by the English :
Dunnotar, Kinclaven, Kinneff, and Lauriston. The spring of
1337 saw the destruction of Bothwell, where Edward III had
wintered not long before and directed its rebuilding, as well
as St. Andrews and Leuchars.
Sir Andrew attempted to besiege the castles of Stirling
and Edinburgh in the same year. Stirling’s siege, lasting
from April to May, 1337, Moray aborted for fear of Edward
Ill’s approaching army. By October of the same year, Moray
found himself besieging Edinburgh castle and re-appointing
Scottish men to local offices as in the choice of Laurence de
Preston as the sheriff of Lothian. The sieges of Stirling and
Edinburgh did not result in their capture; however they did
serve to extend Scottish authority deep into the lands ceded
by the now nearly powerless Balliol. As Moray lifted his
siege, both the English and the Scots laid waste to Lothian,
each to punish the other side. Due to the scarcity of food
and the unceasing violence, some Scots left Scotland to settle
in England or abroad.
3′ William F. Skene, editor, John of Fordun’s Chronicle of the Scottish
Nation, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1872), pp. 351-2.
Perhaps to allow him more freedom in dealing with the
French and to extricate himself from the situation and the
continued blows to his honor at failing to bring Scotland to
heal, Edward III appointed Thomas Beauc’namp, earl of Warwick,
as the leader of his army in Scotland. Unfortunately for
Beauchamp, his support was erratic at best and never more than
three thousand five hundred men according to N.B. Lewis in his
article “The recruitment and organization of a contract army,
May to November 1337”. Indeed the earl of Warwick failed to
keep Andrew of Moray from raiding into northern England in the
fall of 1337. Moray managed to gather not only sizeable
amounts of booty from the raids which he used to support his
army,88 but also burned down the manor house of the Bishop of
Carlisle. Moray’s success was enough to encourage one of
Edward Ill’s chief supporters and keeper of Caerlaverock
Castle to desert to the Scots.89
Beauchamp performed so abysmally that Edward III replaced
him with two men at the end of 1337, Richard Fitzalan, Earl of
Arundel, and William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury. To minimize
their losses and maximize their success, the two joint
captains had one objective: the capture of Dunbar Castle held
at that time by Agnes, the wife of Patrick Earl of Dunbar.90
88 Bower, vol. 7. p. 126-7.
ss Lanercost Chronicle, pp.303-4.
90 Agnes was commonly called Black Agnes, so says Pitscottie, by reason of
her black skin. While this is certainly possible, she has a rather dark
humor to her which no doubt added additional weight to her title.
On January 13, 1337, the siege commenced against Dunbar
castle that lasted twenty-two weeks. Bower singles out this
particular event for closer study. The action itself
symbolized several things regarding the English campaign in
Scotland. First, a win here for the English gave the illusion
that they were still a viable force in Scotland. Second, the
English had a vested interest in punishing the earl of Dunbar
for his treachery and also in taking and holding Dunbar
Castle,91 especially after having so recently lost Caerlaverock
to the Scots.
The English found that they did not truly control their
recent acquisitions, nor did they dampen the Scottish
nationalist spirit. As Agnes defended the castle from the two
earls, she took every opportunity to belittle them and their
efforts. For example, the earl of Salisbury constructed a sow
for the purposes of gaining entry to the castle. As he
brought it forth, Agnes shouted at him, “Montagu, Montagu,
beware for your sow will farrow!”32 At which point she caused
a machine of her own to fire a large heavy stone which crushed
the sow and many underneath it, destroying them both. “Those
who barely escaped with their lives lost all their equipment
91 Dunbar Castle was deep in the heart of the supposedly English held
Scottish lands. Yet another thorn in the side of the English, both
strategically and psychologically.
9~ Bower, vol. 7, pp. 128-129.
this way, although those inside the castle were very short of
Nothing worked for the earls, even bribery failed them.
Bower relates the instance where the earl of Salisbury
arranged to have the castle gate opened at a certain time,
ensuring safe entry and victory for him and his men. However,
the gatekeepers proved more loyal to the Scots than to English
money; they kept their promise to open the gates at the
appointed time but only after warning the garrison. When the
time came for the earl to enter, one John Coupland, the same
John Coupland that lost his teeth to David II eight year later
at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, pulled back the earl due to
some sense of foreboding. He then fell through the entryway.
The portcullis came crashing down, trapping only him and
allowing Montague to escape.
The siege lasted about five months. By June, Edward III
was getting ready for war with France. After a short stop at
Whitekirk94 to speak with Montague and Fitzalan, he ordered
them to end the costly siege. Dunbar castle remained a thorn
in the English side, the siege had not been successful. In
fact at the price of approximately six thousand pounds and a
truce with the Scots until Michaelmas 133995, the English could
only look on this venture as a failure. For the Scots, it was
93 Bower, vol. 7, pp. 128-129.
94 Nicholson, p. 137; P.R.O. Various Accounts, E. 101, 20/25
the key piece of good fortune that allowed them to weather one
of the greatest losses in their continuing struggle for the
freedom of the lowlands from English control; the death of the
Guardian, Sir Andrew Moray.
Sir Andrew Moray, Guardian of Scotland, never left the
cause of David Bruce. While other Scottish nobles weighed the
advantage of alliance, even temporary, with the English, Sir
Andrew stiffened his resolve to recover Scotland from Balliol
and Edward III. By the time of Sir Andrew’s death, the
portions which Edward III did not claim by right of the gift
from Balliol recognized no lord other than David Bruce with
very few exceptions, and these were mostly in Galloway. Moray
harassed the lands Edward III claimed so successfully that not
an enemy castle remained north of the Firth of Forth with the
exceptions of Cupar and Perth. Sir Andrew pursued the
policies of his brother-in-law King Robert the Bruce,
destroying the land as he passed through it, making it
unusable by his opponents as assuredly as Edward III
maintained it against the Bruce party. Bower valued his
accomplishments so much that he praised him along with Robert
the Steward, who became Guardian at Sir Andrew’s death, and
remained so until David II’s return from France four years
95 Nicholson, p. 137.
Andrew Moray died during the spring of 1338 at a time
when Edward III maintained a stronger interest in his French
possessions. What Moray gave to the Bruce cause enabled it to
continue with less able guidance until David II’s eventual
return from France. Moray brought a hardness of character,
patriotism, and keen intelligence to the cause in the form of
determined leadership. No one ever held his loyalty suspect,
or had any cause to dispute his arrangement as Guardian and
the success he enjoyed in driving the English out of occupied
Scotland. While his methods sometimes bordered on
ruthlessness, they kept alive the cause until his death and
after, through a time when the cause was led by less able men.
Wynton views Edward Ill’s distraction as fortuitous,
sumizing that if Edward had put forth the effort, he could
have finally and thoroughly crushed the Scots. However, even
if Edward continued the level of involvement he showed during
1337, or possibly even increased it, the hopes of any real
victory had already slipped out of English hands. Balliol had
no native allies to speak of and hence no power to help.
Edward III would have had to supply all the money and manpower
from a Parliament that continued to see diminishing returns on
money spent on Scotland, indeed money wasted. To make matters
more difficult, England faced increasing threats from the
French navy on the southern coast of England. Also, Edward
Ill’s lands in France had a much greater worth and were much
more fiscally, politically, and psychologically worthy of his
time and effort. The English king, considering his
circumstances, was simply unable to meet the demands of
subduing Scotland, a task that had yet to be accomplished by
any English king.
What Edward III and Balliol failed to achieve militarily,
they also failed at diplomatically. David II, still living
under the protection of Philip VI in France, rejected an
agreement in 1336 that proposed a settlement to end the
problem of rulership once and for all. Even the indomitable
Moray supported it.96 David’s reply was a slap in the face to
Balliol and Edward III. Not only did he reject the idea, but
he also denied the need for further truces. Indeed the Scots
initiated few truces in the coming years, a testament to the
changing fortunes and accomplishments of the resistance.
The leadership of the resistance devolved to men less
able at the death of Moray. Two men stood out as men of
action, William Douglas, the future Knight of Liddesdale, and
Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie. Both had excellent martial
experience and excelled at the guerrilla warfare necessary to
30 Balliol would have remained king and David II would have become his
heir. Furthermore, David II was to leave the corrupting influence of the
French and exchange it for the corrupting influence of the English. David,
certainly influenced by his immediate court and Philip VI, rejected the
plan. In doing so he had nothing to lose. To return to Scotland as heir
to the greatly diminished Scotland resulting from Balliol’s “gift” to
Edward III gained nothing. The war was going better that it had since the
invasion, the support of the French was unwavering, and Philip needed the
added pressure on the English to keep Edward III off balance and unsure
where to devote his attention.
drive the English out of Scotland. Unfortunately, neither of
them had the grasp of overall strategy that graced Moray as
evidenced by the general lack of action of the following year.
Had they the benefit of Moray’s grasp on strategy, fresh
attacks on English possessions may well have coincided with
the French attacks on English lands in the south of England.
They also lacked the high noble status to be effective leaders
as both were relatively minor nobility.
Leadership, instead, fell to Robert the Steward.
At this time, affirms the chronicler Bower, the
Stewart was young in years, but old in deeds,
especially against the English.97 What these deeds
were it would be hard to say : although the Steward’s
submission to Edward III in 1335 had not lasted long
there is no sign of any activity on his part for the
next few years. Under the newly appointed Guardian,
the offensive slackened. 98
Robert showed little initiative until June 1339 when he
besieged Perth along with William, earl of Ross ; Patrick
Dunbar, earl of March; and other notable knights. Sir William
Douglas joined him shortly after returning from David II’s
court in France. Douglas received the permission of David II
See Bower, vol. 7, pp. 136-137.
45 Nicholson, p. 138. For Bower to state this, when no chronicle gives any
mention to Robert the Stewart’s activities in the face of the English,
leads one to doubt the veracity of the source. However, when one takes
into account the period during which Bower wrote, the issues become more
clear. Bower wrote during the fifteenth century, an undoubtedly Stewart
century. For him to paint the progenitor of the line a slacker during this
patriotic period may have been impolitic in the least. In so much as the
facts allowed, the simple allusion to greatness not born out by any factual
support gave the Steward the seeming of greatness without having to
actually give him his due. It is possible Bower had information that we do
not today, however, unlikely that none of the other chroniclers did.
to hire a French pirate to aid in the siege of Perth, cutting
off the English from supplies and reinforcements by the sea.”
At this time also, the Stewart sent Douglas to speak with
the keeper of Cupar castle for Balliol, one Sir William
Bullock. Douglas arranged Bullock’s defection to the cause of
the Bruce party with the promise of lands. After delivering
Cupar castle, Bullock aided the Guardian and his allies with
information and men to assist in the capture of Perth. On
August 17, 133 9, Perth surrendered. The Guardian tore down
the walls and the surviving English took what possessions they
had and fled to England.
Balliol came too late to relieve the siege. On October
15, 1339, Edward Ill’s government issued payment for the
troops headed north under Balliol for the planned relief,
almost two months after the castle had fallen.100 Two weeks
later on October 29, 1339, proceedings against the keeper of
Perth, Thomas Ughtred, were suspended until the king of
England could look more fully into the matter.101
On October 24, 1339 Perth hosted a parliament which
discussed plans for an attack on Stirling that amounted to
Doubtless a product of his times, Bower does not generally take issue with
Robert the Stewart unless it is necessary.
99 Bower, vol. 7, pp. 140-141.
|°° Bain, vol. 3, p. 240.
101 Bain, vol. 3, p. 240., The timing of these events only reinforces the
manner in which the original attack against Scotland by the Disinherited
must have been planned. If the communication was that slow for the
English, Edward III must have planned Balliol’s assault with great care.
nothing.102 The Guardian, supposedly long in deeds against the
English, accomplished little after his moment of action at
Perth. Any action came from other men and in other places.
David II himself took the field in Flanders with the kings of
France, Bohemia and Navarre,103 although he did not return to
Scotland for another two years, leaving the battle to men
suited to the task like John Randolph, the earl of Moray.
Captured several years before while attempting to escort his
captured charges to safety, he had found freedom in a prisoner
exchange after the earls of Salisbury and Suffolk were
captured at Lille.
Randolph’s return to Scotland allowed the Scots to begin
another offensive against the English (which in actuality
amounted to little in comparison the efforts of Moray a scant
few years earlier). Randolph worked to recover his lordship
of Annandale from the Bohuns, to whom Edward III had given it
when parceling out his newly acquired territories from Edward
Balliol. William Douglas continued his guerilla campaign
against other occupied lands along the borders.
In April of 1341, Douglas succeeded in a venture that
surpassed all other men who tried it since the death of Robert
I, the liberation of Edinburgh Castle. Through trickery, Sir
William Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale, with the aid of Sir
l0~ The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 1, 1844, p. 512.
William Bullock, recaptured the castle of Edinburgh in the
name of King David II. Disguised as merchants, they gained
entrance and propped open the opened gate and called for their
men to attack.104 After winning the castle, the leaders of the
Scottish resistance divided the defense of the borders amongst
themselves. Randolph from his lands in Annandale administered
the West March, Douglas the Middle March and Ramsay the East
March, each where their primary landed interests lay.
Scotland at last seemed free once again — free enough,
anyway, for the king to return.
David II and Queen Joan landed at Inverbervie on June 2,
1341, after an absence of over seven years.105 At seventeen
and already somewhat experienced at warfare, David II eagerly
awaited the chance to take the Scots’ struggle to the English.
As David happily rode off across a liberated Scotland, the
task of governing began. The years of war, from the invasion
of the Disinherited to David II’s return, had impoverished the
country.106 From bad harvests, the frequent devastation both
sides visited on the countryside, bitter rivalries, to the
occasionally weak leadership (primarily of Robert the
l0j Froissart, Jean. The Chronicle of Froissart. vol. 1, trans. Sir John
Bourchier, (New York: AMS Press, Inc., 1967), p. 119.
^ Wynton. vol. vi, pp.139-145.
~05 Wynton. vol. vi, pp. 152-155.
George Burnett, ed., Rotuli Scaccarii Requm Scotorum: The Exchequer
Rolls of Scotland, vol. 1, (Edinburgh: Neill and Company, 1878), pp. 435-
468. See all accounts for the period 1334 to 1340.; Nicholson, p. 140.
Stewart), not much remained in the royal treasury.107 To
effect recompense for the shortfalls, David II began to re-
establish strong royal government. This meant not only
finding an able administrator, but also taking an accounting
of what taxes were owed the government.
David found his able administrator in Sir William
Bullock, who had experience in the position as he performed
the same function for Edward Balliol. Bullock did a remarkable
job with the resources available to him. At the height of
Scotland’s prosperity, in 1331 before all the trouble Balliol
brought with him from England, the exchequer accounts totaled
£377 4, 3 shillings and 9H pence. Bullock managed to raise
£1198, 9 shillings and 4% pence in 1342, nearly a third of the
receipts of 1331 .108 He did such an admirable job with a land
that suffered such devastation over the previous decade that
he unwittingly encouraged the envy of the nobility. As he
became one of the king’s most trusted advisor’s, the magnates
decided he must go. They convinced young David that Bullock
had committed treason. The young king had little choice but
to submit to his nobles’ will in this matter.109 David had him
107 Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 1, pp. 435-468.
108 Rotuli Scaccarii, vol. 1, ppclxv-clxvi.
109 Having just returned to his kingdom and being barely 18 yrs old, David
must have felt the pressure Robert the Stewart and others applied to him to
get rid of Bullock, ostensibly because he was too good at his job.
arrested and jailed in 1342 at Lochindorb by David Barclay,
where he shortly after died of starvation.110
From the money Bullock raised for David II, David
rewarded his faithful supporters. The eldest son of Andrew of
Moray, Margaret of Moray (possibly his sister), Gilbert of
Carrick, Sir William St. Clair, Ellen of Mar and her husband
Sir John Menteith, all received donations or pensions from
David II. However, the greatest prizes went to Sir Malcolm
Fleming and Sir William Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale.111
David II wasted little time in making his presence in
Scotland known. After the initial feasting upon his return,11′
David began a circuit of the kingdom. On June 17 he stopped
in Arbroath to reaffirm the liberties of the abbey there. The
next day, June 18, 1341 found David II in Dundee continuing to
address the concerns of Arbroath Abbey with the inspection of
charters issued by his predecessors. His primary concern at
this time centered on verifying not only lands given
previously to the abbey, but also rights of regality and
Establishing this pattern early was key to David II’s
success in returning to his kingdom. First, David needed the
continued support of the clergy to re-legitimize his position
as king. By re-affirming rights and incomes already granted
110 For dun. p. 356.
111 Although he had not picked up Liddesdale yet.
by previous kings, he accomplished much with little effort.113
By such action, he also strengthened his ties with the church,
a church that had been too willing to send representatives to
Balliol after Dupplin Moor.
The witnesses on these inspections included Bishop
Alexander de Kininmund of Aberdeen, Bishop Adam de Moravia of
Brechin, John and Adam the abbots of Cupar and Lindores abbeys
respectively, Duncan, earl of Fife, Sir Malcolm Fleming and
Sir John de Bonville. David inspected two other charters on
June 18, 1341, with only minor changes in the witness list
adding the David de Haya, the constable of Scotland.114
Two days later, on June 20, 1341, David and his entourage
arrived at Kildrummy and produced a note on a charter to one
of his faithful, Malcolm Fleming, to hold all his lands in
Lenzie, Kilmaronock, and Dalziel in free warren.115 The
bishops of Aberdeen, Moray, and Ross (all northern bishops),
the king’s “most dear nephew” William of Ross, Sir Philip de
Meldrum, and Sir Thomas Charteris, the chancellor of Scotland
witnessed. David moved very quickly into the north after his
brief stop at Dundee. He or his agents covered approximately
1-2 Bower, vol. 7. Pp. 150-51.
113 Generally, by re-affirming a donation made by a previous king, the king
is simply saying that he recognizes and supports the right and privileges
set forth by one of his predecessors. There is very little risk involved
by doing so and great benefit for the petitioner. An inspection of their
charter in modern times makes it more legitimate should any issue regarding
those rights appear in the future.
L1* Webster, pp. 74-77.
113 Webster, p. 78.
one hundred miles in two days.116 David’s visits at this early
stage of his return helped to consolidate the north. He used
the bishops of the region to fill his witness lists to ensure
everyone knew he had not only returned but also had the
support of the church.
One month later, on July 18, 1341, David II rewarded one
of his most important followers at Stirling.117 Loyal,
patriotic, and cunning but certainly avaricious, William
Douglas (the knight of Liddesdale) received as his reward for
service the earldom of Atholl, formerly in the hands of David
of Strathbogie who died fighting with his back to a tree at
the battle of Culblean. Some of David’s closest adherents and
Douglas’s allies filled the witness list that day. Duncan,
earl of Fife, represented the great nobles, while David
Lyndsay, lord of Crawford, Malcolm Fleming, Alexander de
Seton, Philip de Meldrum, and the king’s chancellor Thomas
Charteris118 attended representing the king’s own men.115
*io While one hundred miles in two days of travel was excessive, it was
certainly not impossible. It did mean the king had to proceed at least
double the normal rate of travel. Having recently arrived in Scotland to
reclaim his kingdom in fact more than word must have leant some urgency to
the task. Also, as there is no evidence to the contrary, there is no
reason not to believe that David traveled as stated.
*17 Peculiar place for a charter to be issued. Stirling Castle had not yet
capitulated by the date of issuance. It is possible that the charter was
issued from the town and that the English lacked the resources to control
much more than they could see from the castle walls, something alluded to
by Wynton and Bower. However one must also not disregard the possibility
that the charter is dated incorrectly. Douglas does not style himself earl
until a charter to the Steward in February of 1342.
116 A note of interest here. Thomas Charteris does not hold office after
David II is captured at Durham, and does not appear in records prior to
this. However one Thomas Charteris was the last Chancellor of Alexander
Ill’s reign, holding office until a year before John Balliol took over in
A month later David issued another charter to William
Douglas from his stronghold of Dumbarton castle. More lands
and another barony added to the already extensive holdings of
the newly created earl. The witnesses attending for this
charter included knights, John de Bonville, Philip de Meldrum,
Maurice de Moray, Alexander Ramsey and the Chancellor Thomas
Charteris. This was David’s last issuance of a charter until
the parliament convened in Scone the following month on
September 17, 1341. Two things of significance appear when
examining these charters. David’s choice of witnesses and
charters he issued bear some examination here. The witness
lists show David’s penchant for using knights to aid him.
With the exception of Alexander Ramsey and the chancellor
Charteris, the rest of the witnesses on this list are
The second issue bearing examination is the lack of
Robert the Steward’s presence. Certainly had Robert, David’s
nephew and heir, been present he would have witnessed charters
for his uncle. All the chronicles are silent as to his
location at this time, but he certainly attended the
parliament at Scone in September as supported by his presence
in the witness lists of several inspections and charters
issued during the session. Upon examining David’s witness
1292. Certainly there is a connection between the two men but what that
connection is I have been unable to ascertain by the time of writing.
lists, one notes that the great nobles of the kingdom are
conspicuously absent with little exception. David learned
enough in his years of exile in France to know whom to trust.
Knights or minor nobles that owed their success directly to
him became excellent and frequent choices for David7s closest
circle of advisors. One may only speculate at the thoughts
the Steward had about David’ s return and his place in it.
The events of the next several years, ones of
consolidation for David II, set the tone for the rest of David
II’s reign. David used his own men in positions of power. He
created positions of power if he could not suitable ones
available. For example, Malcolm Fleming received the earldom
of Wigtown early in 1342. David created the earldom for his
steadfast supporter as a reward for holding Dumbarton castle
safe as a rallying point for the Bruce cause. Upon David II’s
return from France, Fleming owed nothing to the likes of the
Steward and everything to his patron the king.
Monumental events took place during the two years
immediately after David’s return for both the weal and woe of
the kingdom. Scotland lost the good offices of Alexander
Ramsay. Robert the Steward and the newly created earl of
Atholl, William Douglas,121 schemed for personal gain. William
119 Webster, pp. 78-79.
l2° Webster, pp. 79-80.
121 No one questioned the effectiveness of Douglas’s conduct during the war
and his continued actions against the English. After David returned
Douglas felt his success earned him the right to act upon his own
Bullock aided the king in dealing with the kingdom’s finances
in arrears from the time of David’s exile until his return
and, as noted, died a traitor’s death for it.122 However, the
earl of Moray, John Randolph, returned from captivity.
Roxburgh castle no longer remained in English hands after
Alexander Ramsay captured it. Edinburgh fell to the wiles and
skill of William Bullock and William Douglas. Stirling castle
fell. The English had only a token force left in Scotland,
and that concentrated mostly in the hands of Henry Percy, the
keeper of Berwick for the English.
The next several years, in combination with the years of
David’s captivity, set the stage for David to rule as king in
deed as well as name. To get there, however, Scotland and
David went through growing pains the kingdom nearly did not
survive. Beginning with the deaths of Bullock and Ramsay,
Scotland had to face a different kind of adversity to retain
the tenuous grasp it held on its freedom.
recognizance, an act that eventually ended with his death at the hands of
Bullock was starved to death in Lochindorb late in 1342. Bower pp.156-
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
At the height of the Scottish War for Independence, on March
5, 1324, David II was born at Dunfermline. The kingdom
rejoiced in his birth, which guaranteed a direct line of
succession for the crown of Scotland. Bower’s Scotichronicon
recorded the relief of the Scots through the words of Bernard,
the abbot of Arbroath :
If you add one thousand, three hundred, twice ten and three,
on the fifth of the month of March a new sword arrived;
David was born in the world, to the delight of the Scots.
Our Scottish king, Robert, still in the prime of life
has fathered before his death a brave man like himself.
This son of the king, following his father, will direct the eyes of
will increase their sight, and cherish his people with integrity.
This man will play at combat in the gardens of the English; or else
may God make a lasting piece between the kingdoms.
Bernard’s predictions for the young prince became ironically
prophetic for David II’s reign. He did indeed play at battle
in English fields while he passed the time in England as
Edward Ill’s guest during his eleven year long imprisonment.
However, lasting peace with the English escaped him.
Aside from the obligatory laudations issued by King
Robert Bruce’s most important advisors at his birth,
chroniclers remain silent about David until his marriage to
Joan, the sister of Edward III. Robert I, David’s father,
arranged the marriage in accordance with the treaty of
3j Bower, vol. 7, pp. 12-15.
M semel et c ter bis x si junxeris i ter, in quinta mensis marcii novus
affuit ensis ; natus in orbe David qui Scotos letificavit.
Rex noster Scotus Robertus robore totus ante suam mortem genuit similem
sibi fortem. Filius hie regis, post patrem, lumina legis diriget, augebit,
Edinburgh-Northampton. Since David II’s (and Robert I, his
father’s) legitimacy as a ruler was tied to the concessions of
the treaty, its conditions must be examined.
The treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton maintained certain
stipulations held undeniable by the English as well as the
Scots. First and foremost, the English recognized Robert I as
the king of Scots and Scotland as a free and independent
kingdom by stating the conditions of the peace; that it should
be “final and perpetual—between said kings, their heirs and
successors, and their kingdoms and their lands….”34 By
expressly mentioning separate kings, heirs, kingdoms and
lands, they consequently demonstrated Scotland’s true
independence from England.
Secondly, the marriage arranged between David and Joan
actually encompassed a larger ideal. The two royal houses
were to be joined together (irrespective of the current
players, David and Joan, being children). For the assurance
of the marriage, “an oath is made on the souls of the said
kings, by the persons named below [i.e., the witnesses], and
of the prelates and other great men of Scotland.”35
Thirdly, the arrangement between the Scots and the
French was not to be broken. This meant that the Scots
populum probitate fovebit. Iste manu fortis Anglorum ludet in Ortis, vel
faciat pacem Deus inter regna tenacem.
34 Gordan Donaldson. Scottish Historical Documents. (Edinburgh : Scottish
Academic Press Ltd., 197 4(reprinted)), p. 61.
35 Donaldson, p. 61.
refused to engage in conflict with England unless specifically
called upon to do so by the French according to the terms of
their alliance. The English also obtained the following
stipulations from the Scots : the Scots would not hinder the
English effort in Ireland, and the English retained the right
to make war upon the Scots if the Scots attacked England in
accordance with the treaty the Scots held with the French.
Fourth, the English were to assist the Scots in resolving
issues with the pope in Rome, who had placed Scotland under
interdict and excommunicated Robert I early in his reign at
the behest of the English. This proved largely unnecessary,
for the pope very shortly recognized Scotland as free and
independent, deserving of its own rites of coronation.
Fifth, the Scots were to be freed of any and all “writs,
obligations, instruments and other muniments touching the
subjection of the people or of the land of Scotland to the
king of England,”36 In concordance with this point, the return
of muniments held by the English to the Scots was mandatory.
Lastly, the Scots agreed to pay to the English twenty
thousand pounds sterling over the period of three years.37
Additionally, the Scots agreed to supply their new queen with
J0 Donaldson, p. 62.
37 A tidy sum for the Scots. Certainly more than should have been
necessary, but with it the Scots purchased their freedom. It is
interesting to note, however, that Edward III did not actively seek the
demise of the Scots until after this sum had been paid. Also, the sum of
two thousand pounds would again crop up with the lands Edward Balliol would
lands amounting to two thousand pounds sterling annual income
for her to be maintained in the style befitting a queen.
The fifth point treats most directly the problem relating
to David’s legitimacy. Here the English have under only token
conditions accepted Scotland as a sovereign nation. Had the
English, and more importantly Edward III, decided to hold to
the treaty, English fortunes most certainly would have been
different and I believe better for the English. Edward III
chose to view the treaty as something humiliating and
degrading to him, forced upon him by his mother and her
advisors. However, he failed to look at the obvious benefits.
First, the treaty enabled England to have a more or less
secure northern flank. The Scots agreed not to hamper the
English work in Ireland, which would have allowed them to
bring more pressure to bear there, possibly ending in the type
of pacification Edward I had imposed upon Wales.
Second, the English crown knew from past experience that
the best way to control the Scots was to make them have a
vested interest in peace with England. By continuing war with
Scotland throughout the fourteenth century, Edward III insured
a long future of contention with the Scots over territory.
Lands that men with nothing to lose and much to regain stood
cede to Edward III as the price of his aid from Balliol in wresting
Scotland away from the Bruce and his adherents.
able and willing to fight with them over.38 However, peace was
not to be. Instead of trusting in the traditional Scottish
inability to reach much of an internal consensus, he trusted
his own military prowess and that of his protégé and future
vassal, Edward Balliol the Pretender.
Unquestionably, Edward III knew David II as the
legitimate king of Scotland. Had Edward III truly disputed
this fact, he would have had to refute all of the conditions
of the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, not merely the ones he
chose. In fact, he failed to make any provision for his
sister Joan (married to David II); nor did he offer to return
any of the twenty thousand pounds the Scots paid to the
English for the treaty.39
By his actions, Edward III certainly did not dispute the
legitimacy of the Bruce legacy. From December 1330 until early
1332, Edward III referred to David II as king of Scots. From
early 1332 until the invasion led by Beaumont and Balliol in
August 1332, Edward III directed his correspondence more
36 I assert that had the English crown not spent so much time harassing the
Scots and attempting to control the borders more directly by a more or less
permanent presence there, the situation would not have lent itself to a few
lords gaining control of most of the borderlands, as with the case of the
earls of Douglas. Had Edward III chosen to keep the Scottish nobility
divided in their loyalties, there would have been a strong internal voice
in Scotland that argued against continued war with England. Rarely did the
Scots attempt to take anything from the English that had not already been
taken from them.
j5 It would have been rather difficult to do so even had he wanted to.
What money that did not go immediately to his mother Isabella, went to pay
off his mounting debt to the Bardi. See the Joseph Bain, editor, Calendar
of Documents Relating to Scotland, vol. 3, (Edinburgh: General Register
House, 1887), pp. 180-190.
towards Thomas Randolph, the earl of Moray and Guardian of
Scotland. In attempting to achieve restitution for the lands
of the Disinherited, Edward III invoked the treaty of
Edinburgh-Northampton. At no time did Edward III dispute the
legitimacy of the Bruce family as rulers of Scotland, until he
had firmly ensconced his puppet Balliol on the throne of
Scotland in 1332.
Since Edward III had no real ground to stand on to
contest the Bruce family ruling in Scotland, he manufactured
some. No doubt exists in the fact that if Edward III could
somehow pacify Scotland he could turn his attention to more
pressing needs, those of his territories in France. He
allowed the idea of a revived Balliol claim to the Scottish
throne because it served several purposes for him. First, it
gave him control of the whole of Britain as Balliol was made
to recognize Edward III as Overlord of Scotland. Second, he
secured the future against Scotland by forcing Balliol to hand
over some of the best and most productive Scottish land in
exchange for the honor of becoming king. This not only took
from Scotland a significant portion of its income, it also
secured the most likely approaches to Scotland the English
would use in case of invasion. Third, Balliol dispensed with
the Auld Alliance with France, leaving Edward III even more
freedom to deal more appropriately with his French
possessions. Seemingly, Edward Ill’s strategy could not fail.
Having examined the issue of legitimacy and Edward Ill’s basic
strategy, one must look next at the actual events.
Robert I, king of Scotland died on June 7, 1329. His
legacy of independence seemed secure with Randolph the
Guardian of the Scotland and the treaty of Edinburgh-
Northampton negotiated and signed by all parties. Even the
Church saw fit to recognize Scotland as an independent kingdom
in its own right. However, events conspired to bring low the
accomplishments of a generation.
Edward III replaced the rule of his mother and her lover
Roger Mortimer in October 1330 with his own. To all
appearances he adhered to the conditions of the treaty, a
treaty which had never been popular with the young king.40
What transpired to initiate the plan of replacing the Bruce
party with a Balliol puppet no one knows.
The chronicler Bower maintains, however that nothing less
than adultery was responsible for the onslaught of the
Disinherited. According to Bower a rather lusty fellow by the
name of Twynam Lourison found that his beautiful and modest
wife was simply not enough for him. Therefore he engaged in
many extramarital affairs with not only single but also
married women. These liaisons did not go unnoticed. Twynam,
who had often been prosecuted in court, promised amends as he
40 After all, it was at the hands of the Scots that he felt the first taste
of defeat and frustration.
had many times before. Unfortunately for Twynam, the
magistrate, one William Eckford, chose not to believe him on
account of his great many relapses. Instead he ordered
Twynam did not think much of that idea and proceeded to
gather some friends together and waylay the poor magistrate.
Twynam then proceeded on pain of death to extort the rather
large sum of two hundred pounds from the man. Upon hearing of
this deed, Sir James Douglas postponed his trip to the Holy
Land with Robert I’s heart to search for the man. Apparently
Douglas pursued him so keenly that Twynam fled to France to
Edward Balliol, where he told Balliol that now was the time
for Balliol to reclaim his kingdom.41
Edward III must have considered his coup d’etat
carefully, for not three days before he carried it out on
October 19, 1330, he issued a safe conduct to Balliol to come
to England with his retinue.42 For the next year, Edward III
made seemingly earnest attempts at reconciling the
Dispossessed with their lands in Scotland. He must have known
that his appeals fell on deaf ears, for scarcely more than one
year later, the Disinherited began their plans to recover
their lost titles and lands.
4* Bower, vol. 7, pp. 64-67.
Joseph Bain, editor, Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, vol. 3,
(Edinburgh: General Register House, 1887), p. 183.
Whether or not the story of Twynham Lourisan is true,
speculation must focus on the timing and circumstances of the
events that followed. First, Edward III issued the
aforementioned safe conducts for Balliol to come to England
with his retinue. Second, Edward III succeeded in his coup in
1330. Third, a scant two months after his coup, Edward III
issued letters to David II concerning the rights to lands
formerly held by those Disinherited by David’ s father, King
Robert I. Jonathan Sumption in his book on the Hundred Years
War states that sometime in 1331 Henry Beaumont conceived of
the plan the Disinherited eventually used; sending a small
private army north to recover what they could from the Scots.43
On December 9, 1330, Edward III issued a command that the
lands of Thomas Wake of Lidel be restored to him, as he had
exonerated himself from wrong doing in the king’s eyes.
Ordinarily, restoration of lands creates little suspicion, but
twenty-one days later, on December 30, 1330, Edward III sent a
letter to David King of Scots to make “restitution of lands
and possessions in Scotland to Thomas Wake lord of Lidel and
Henry de Beaumant earl of Buchan.”44 This letter places two of
Scotland’s antagonists firmly in line with their cause at an
Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle.
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press. pp.124-5.
4” Bain, vol. 3, p. 183.
Could Edward III and his adherents have been plotting the
demise of Scotland this quickly after taking power? Further
evidence only reinforces the view that Edward III and his
friends did not sit idly by doing nothing about the Scottish
problem. The scheming necessary to remove his mother and
Mortimer from power a few months earlier could not have been
done at the spur of the moment. Likewise, any operation
against Scotland as clandestine as this one needed advanced
Edward III made significant arrangements to return to his
grace some of the major players amongst the Scottish nobility,
nobles that held claim on a wide variety of lands and titles.
One such individual, David of Strathbogie the Disinherited
earl of Athol, paid five thousand librates on January 2, 1331
to Edward III to erase any doubt of where his loyalties lav.45
Another individual on whom Edward III rested some hope
was Walter Comyn, invaluable near Galloway and along the
southwest border because of his family name. Comyn received a
special writ of protection from the English king to accompany
Henry Beaumant over seas on private business. Unfortunately
for Comyn, by August 6 1332 he found himself in an English
jail to answer for felonies. They must have been serious to
deprive Balliol of another name for his cause.46
^ Bain, vol. 3, p. 184.
40 Bain, vol. 3, p. 191.
Of course Edward III did not let the Scots know of his
intentions or of those of Balliol. As the final example of
the timing and planning that Edward III arranged, one must
look at the events immediately preceding and including the
invasion of Scotland by the Disinherited.
Donald the earl of Mar, closest kinsman to the king after
his heir Robert Steward, and Guardian of Scotland at the death
of Thomas Randolph, on October 15, 1331 received a safe
conduct for himself and twelve of his men to travel to England
on his own business.47 This visit can be seen as an attempt by
Balliol’s faction to gain access to the inside of the Scottish
Donald had long been associated with not only the English
but also many of the Disinherited. Indeed the earl of Mar
gave poor accounting for himself. At the instigation of
Robert Bruce (who accused him of treachery), the bastard son
of Robert the Bruce, Donald led the Scots headlong into the
English where a wholesale slaughter took place at the Battle
of Dupplin Moor. More Scottish soldiers died for their
disorganized rush at the English than either side felled with
The choice of Donald of Mar as a successor to the
deceased Guardian Thomas Randolph was reached unanimously.
4 ‘ Bain, vol. 3, p. 189.
“a Nicholson, p. 126.
Balliol must have known this would be the case. To lend
credence to the idea of a conspiracy, one must also look at
the untimely (or timely as far as Balliol was concerned) death
of the Guardian Thomas Randolph. According to the chronicler
Bower, the Disinherited feared battle against Randolph, so
much so that they plotted his demise :
…therefore they devised a new scheme, and (as the
Italians say) xsince treachery is more honorable
than vile war7, they arranged for a certain English
friar, the personal chaplain of the said guardian, a
man who was corrupt in his faith, to give him poison
to drink in his wine. And this was done as stated.49
Wyntoun also comments on the demise of Randolph. “For at [th]e
Wemys neire [th]e se Poyson at a fest wes he.”50 Other sources
remain silent on Randolph’s death; however, one cannot deny
the rapidity of events following Edward Ill’s plotting.
By July 20, 1332, Thomas Randolph lay dead at
Musselburgh. Eleven days later, on July 31, 1332, Balliol and
his army sailed from the Humber towards Kinghorn where they
landed on August 6, 1332 :
Their leaders included Edward Balliol, Henry
Beaumant (claimant through his wife, Alice Comyn, to
the earldom of Buchan), his son-in-law David of
Strathbogie (claimant to the earldom of Atholl),
Gilbert Umfraville (claimant to the earldom of
Angus), Richard Talbot, Ralph Stafford, Henry
Ferrers, Alexander and John Mowbray. With them they
45 Bower, p. 73. “Et idcirco novam artem cinfinxerunt et ut Italic! ferunt
xbello tradimento verius vili’, effecerunt ut quidam frater Anglicus
religione corruptus dicto custodi familiaris capellanus sibi venerium in
vino propinaret. Quod et factum est ut supra.
30 Wyntoun, vol v. pp. 400-1.
had something like five hundred men-at-arms and a
thousand footmen and archers.51
If one is to believe that there was no collusion between
Edward III and the puppet Balliol, then there must have been
some incredible good fortune and an amazing level
of preparedness on the part of the forces of the Disinherited.
Eleven days after the death of Randolph, the Disinherited
had seemingly not only received word of his death but gathered
their forces and set sail on a seven day journey to Scotland,
landing north of Edinburgh at Kinghorn close to Perth where
Balliol eventually made his temporary headquarters.52 Donald
earl of Mar approached Balliol’s army at Dupplin Moor with a
Scottish army said to number approximately thirty thousand.53
Bower gives an excellent account of the battle and the sorrow
that the Scots felt afterwards.54 The Scots were routed, and
Balliol held the field.
5′ Nicholson, p. 125.; Gray, pp. 88-8 9; Gray puns the number at no more
than 400.; Ranald Nicholson, Edward III and the Scots: The Formative Years
of a Military Career 1327-1335, (Glasgow: Oxford University Press, 1965),
More than likely, the timing of the events was set well in advance of
their execution. The Disinherited certainly set sail before they heard
about the death of Randolph. They must have counted on the success of that
mission, considering their overall reluctance to engage Randolph personally
in battle. His death created the perfect conditions for Balliol’s eventual
5j It is worthwhile to note that up until his being made Guardian,
replacing the deceased Randolph, at least some of the Scots considered him
to be an English adherent, a fact upheld by earlier evidence given of his
travels to England during the formation of the Disinherited’s plan. We
have no way of determining definitively what took place on these trips, but
they must have been suspicious, for Robert, the bastard son of Robert the
Bruce, called him out for his supposed English sympathies.
54 See Bower, vol 7, Book XIII.
Edward III up until this point did nothing to arouse any-
Scottish suspicions. On the contrary, on March 24, 1332
Edward III issued commands to the sheriffs of Northumberland,
York, Lancaster, Cumberland, and Westmoreland “to prevent by
force any of his subjects invading the March of Scotland, in
breach of the treaty with the late King Robert.”55 One month
later on April 22, 1332, he issued a letter to Thomas
Randolph, earl of Moray and Guardian of Scotland, reminding
him the one Thomas Wake had not yet received restitution of
his lands and asking for this to be done.56
This might seem a generous and good faith gesture in
keeping with the terms of the treaty. Sumption argues however
that Edward III probably told the sheriffs to do no such
thing.57 However, Sumption may have missed the mark here.
Edward III certainly did not want anyone to cross the borders
by land. Not only would this directly connect him to a breach
of treaty both in Scottish and in English and international
eyes, but it would also most certainly give more chance for an
expedition of this size to fail (marching across miles and
miles of enemy territory).
55 Bain, vol. 3, p.190.
56 Bain, vol. 3, pp. 189-190. Another point of note here is that by this
time, Edward III had ceased referring to David II as the king of Scotland
at all in his letters to the Scots in nothing other than as cursory fashion
as possible. Perhaps Balliol had already performed homage for Scotland to
Edward III and. Edward III was hedging his bets, making sure he did not
inadvertently refer to David as king after he had already shown support for
57 Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle,
(Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), p. 126.
The fact that Edward made the proclamation (which failed
to stop the north from mobilizing, in apparent contradiction
to Edward Ill’s wishes), could also be seen as a serious
attempt at keeping restless or ambitious Englishmen with
scores to settle with the Scots from helping Balliol out by
helping themselves to some Scottish spoils. In addition, the
benefits of such an action were enormous : uphold a treaty, and
at the same time have the north poised for war should it
become necessary to save Balliol, thus saving Edward Ill’s
attempt at dominating Scotland.58
Immediately following Dupplin Moor, Balliol withstood a
half-hearted siege on his base at Perth. The besieger’s
melted away, doubtlessly daunted by the Scots great loss at
Dupplin Moor. By the end of September, approximately six
weeks after he landed in Scotland, Balliol proceeded to Scone.
On September 24, 1332, the earl of Fife sat him upon the
Scottish throne. Bishop William Sinclair of Dunkeld set the
crown upon Balliol’s head. Balliol left Scone and went to
Galloway to rally support. Galloway had always been a strong
supporter of the Balliol and Comyn families. One Sir Eustace
58 Edward III must have seen himself in a win-win situation. Should the
Disinherited lose, at the very least he had pensioners off his back and
account rolls. If they won, Balliol would hand over rich lands to the
English crown in perpetuity in addition to subordination of Scotland to
England forever. Another possibility for the English rested on the fact
that Balliol would fail. If Balliol failed, Edward III may have found a
reason to use the forces gathering in the north against the Scots.
Maxwell of Caerlaverock led those Galwegians loyal to Balliol
and pledged their support.
True to Balliol’s uncertain hold on Scotland and as a
testament to his English master, Balliol then proceeded to
Roxburgh to establish himself in the relative safety of a
large if somewhat damaged castle close to the English border.59
By November 23, 1332, Balliol signed Scotland away to Edward
III. Balliol became not only a pretender (albeit one with a
crown) to the Scottish crown, but also the English king’s
puppet. In exchange for the now acknowledged support of
Edward III, Balliol granted him lands worth two thousand
pounds a year in perpetuity in the lowlands and border area,
which included the town and sheriffdom of Berwick, perhaps the
Scottish town with the largest potential for income from
However, the Scots under the party loyal to the Bruce
faction did not give up so easily. First, they elected a new
Guardian, another relative of the king, his uncle Sir Andrew
Moray/0 Sir Andrew had not only consistent patriotism on his
record but also wealthy and widespread lands. He owned not
only the lands and title of Lord of Avoch in Ross but also the
lands of Bothwell in Lanarkshire.61 Moray left with Sir
35 Nicholson, pp. 126-127.
60 Moray was married to Christian Bruce, the sister of Robert the Bruce,
thus making him David II’s uncle.
6x An interesting side note here. One of David II’s greatest supporters
would be the bastard son of the Good Sir James, Archibald Douglas. Douglas
Archibald Douglas and the engineer John Crabb (captured from
the English by Robert I during the War for Scottish
Independence) to catch Balliol unaware at Roxburgh.
Unfortunately for the Scots, not only did the plan fail but
their two greatest assets were captured, Sir Andrew Moray and
The Scots next chose Sir Archibald Douglas as their new
Guardian. They elected a new Guardian, picking this time a man
of uncontested loyalty with a family name that might give the
English pause in their designs.”3 Archibald Douglas, brother
to Sir James Douglas, Robert I’s most loyal adherent and one
of his most able generals, showed cunning and initiative right
away in dealing with Balliol. Douglas half succeeded this
time in contrast to the failure at Roxburgh. Douglas and
Balliol arranged a truce for the moment. Sir Archibald chose
this moment to strike.
Douglas scraped the bottom of the barrel for men, men of
means that could aid him in his endeavor. He came up with the
teen-aged Robert the Steward, nine-year old David II’s heir,
and the new earl of Moray, John Randolph also a teen-ager.
married one Joanna Moray of Bothwell. None as yet have determined that
Joanna was a direct descendant of Andrew Moray, but it appears likely since
she brought with her the lands of Bothwell as part of her dowry upon her
wedding to Douglas.
1~ Nicholson, p. 127.
°3 This Archibald Douglas was brother to SirJ ames Douglas, the xGood Sir
James’, the English found much cause to fear during the Scots struggle
against the English under Robert I. Archibald and James father, William
xle hardi’ Douglas, was also a staunch Scottish patriot, captured in 1298
by the English and left to rot in the Tower of London
“At dawn on December 17, 1332, they attacked at Annan while
Balliol and his entourage still lay in bed. Balliol barely
escaped, having to ride an unbridled horse in his night
clothes to Carlisle ahead of Douglas’ pursuit. Balliol at
once sent to Edward III for help.”64 Balliol failed to
appreciate the nature of his countrymen. Such trifles as a
devastating defeat on the battlefield, a hasty coronation, and
changes of allegiances by much of the nobility had little to
do with the permanent pacification of Scotland.
Edward III decided that 1333 needed to see swift action
on his part to not only legitimize his claim as the Overlord
of Scotland due to Balliol’s submission, but also to crush any
remaining resistance to his puppet Balliol. Edward III needed
a peaceful Scotland so that he might better deal with events
that continued to interfere with what he viewed as his rights
in his French territories. Fighting a two-front war did not
appeal at all; best to eliminate Scotland early and perhaps
even gain an ally. He must have considered the vast sums of
money he allotted for the Scottish campaign as money well
Fortunately for the Scots and unfortunately for Edward
III and Balliol, the Bruce party did not simply roll over and
die the way the English and the Disinherited wished. The
Bruce party expelled the puppet Balliol from Scotland in a few
64 Nicholson, p. 127.
short months, even after having lost at Dupplin Moor and made
a poor showing of determination and effective resistance as
Balliol sat in Perth. However, Balliol and Edward III were
not to give up easily. Balliol ceded through his letters at
Roxburgh a large and wealthy portion of Scotland to the
English king, something Edward III was not about to lose.
Therefore, Balliol pleaded for and received aid to make
another foray into Scotland.
This time he directed his attention to Berwick, a very
wealthy, if not the wealthiest, city in Scotland conveniently
located and used as a doorway into lowland Scotland. In March
1333, Balliol left Carlisle at the head of a large army
comprised of English lords and their retainers and proceeded
on to Berwick, where he began to besiege. Two months later,
Edward III himself joined the siege. The inhabitants of
Berwick felt the pressure keenly enough to offer hostages in
exchange for a truce until July 20, 1333, at which time the
city would surrender if it had not been relieved.
Indecisiveness about the course of action the Scots
should follow hindered their effectiveness. Too late
Archibald Douglas began ravaging the English countryside in an
attempt to draw off the English. Unfortunately, the attempt
failed and Archibald Douglas marched off to relieve Berwick.
What followed devastated the Scots leadership. Douglas
approached Berwick and found the English already in place upon
a hill. In their effort to knock the English off that hill,
the Scots saw their Guardian, Archibald Douglas, and five
other earls, along with a host of lesser lords, fall among the
One would think that after having dealt the Scots a
combination of blows from Dupplin Moor to their defeat at
Halidon Hill the Scots would be all but vanquished and Balliol
would reign unfettered in Scotland. That could only be
Balliol’s dream, for the Bruce party, leaderless for the
moment, began to consider its defense of Scotland with
slightly different tactics. While the Scots decided on a
course of action, Balliol wasted no time in establishing
himself at Perth and re-inheriting the Disinherited,
augmenting their holdings to add insult to injury.
Earl of Moray was added to Henry Beaumont’s titles, David
of Strathbogie became the Steward of Scotland as well as earl
of Atholl, and one Richard Talbot became the Lord of Mar.65
Edward III almost immediately (letters issued on February 12,
13 3 4 at the parliament called by Balliol verify these grants)
took possession of the two thousand pounds of lands he haggled
out of Balliol in exchange for the king of England’s support.
These territories included Berwick and its sheriffdom, °6 and a
host of lands on or about the borders including Ettrick
65 Nicholson, p. 129.
66 Bain, vol.3, p. 200.
forest, Jeburgh, Roxburgh Selkirk, Peebles, Edinbrugh and
Dumfries sheriffdoms and the constabularies of Linlithgow and
Haddington. All were supposed to have been annexed to the
crown of England forever.67 As a further act of homage to
Edward III, the Puppet issued a letter to him announcing that
he, Balliol, would be only too happy to marry Joanna, Edward
Ill’s sister, and provide for David in some undisclosed
Balliol contented himself with solidifying his hold on
Scotland by issuing letters of homage to Edward III and
rewards to his faithful followers. The Bruce party appeared
to be on the run. For example, Robert the Steward barely
escaped from his castle at Rothesay to Dumbarton castle where
David III and Joanna already waited in safety. Patrick the
earl of March, one of the most staunch foes of the English,
swore allegiance to Edward III. Seemingly all of Scotland had
turned to Balliol, excepting the five castles representing the
resistance : Dumbarton, Kildrummy, Urquhart, Lochleven and Loch
Doon. From a position of strength, Balliol ordered a
parliament that met on February 12, 1334 at Holyrood where he
made his final submission to the English king and gave away
the most valuable portions of Scotland.
Nicholson, Edward III and the Scots, pp. 151-62.
00 Bain, vol.3, p.200. Apparently the fact that Joanna had already married
David II escaped Balliol.
Balliol’s position as king of Scotland was quite
questionable. If one looks at the attendees of his parliament
in 1334, one may easily see the falseness of his position.
The bulk of representative attendance came from the church.
Seven bishops, from Brechin, Aberdeen, Dunkeld, Glasgow,
Galloway, Ross and Dunblane. Of course the Disinherited
appeared, but outside of Patrick earl of March, very few other
Scottish Magnates showed.69 Earl Patrick found himself in the
unenviable position of having to hand over Berwick to Edward
III after Halidon Hill, at which point Edward III induced him
to join the Balliol party, and therefore had to appear.
Winning at Halidon Hill had done two things for Balliol
and his cause. First, it justified his invasion of Scotland
with the Disinherited in his and Edward Ill’s eyes. This led
Balliol and Edward III to believe that since the Scottish
Guardian’s army scattered in defeat, Balliol no longer needed
the large army of Englishmen that Edward III sent to Scotland
for the battle : Edward III sent them home.70 Second, it
spurred Balliol to inaction. The Scots, however, had not been
°9 One may speculate as to the reasons for such a poor attendance.
Certainly the Scots already had a king that had not been deposed or
otherwise invalidated. In addition, Balliol gave away the best parts of
the kingdom. This move could not have been very popular. He showed even
less spine in the face of the English than his father had in 1296 when he
finally could not allow the will of his people to be disputed and attacked
the English. Attendance by the seven bishops of Scotland actually meant
Edward III had very little choice in the matter. The expense of keeping
an army of that size in the field was enormous if there was no active
conflict being fought.
idle since their defeat. In fact, a new phase of the war
began and the Puppet knew nothing about it.
If Balliol had known of the unrest simmering in
Scotland, he made little preparation against it. In 1334,
Balliol contented himself with submitting to Edward III on
June 19, 1334 at Newcastle, one week after he formally-
presented the English king with Balliol’s hack parliament’s
approval of the cession of lands to his fair-weather ally.
The rest of Scotland cared little for the machinations of a
David II, already in safety with his Queen Joan at
Dumbarton castle, received an invitation by the French king
Philip VI to live in France while the current situation in
Scotland sorted itself out. John Randolph, the new Earl of
Moray departed at the end of 1333 to France to help the French
king remember his obligations to the Scots set out in the
Treaty of Corbeil. In early spring he returned with Philip’s
offer to David II and began planning for a new offensive.
On March 4, 1334 not only French but also a Papal envoy
sought an audience with the English king to discuss the
situation and resolve it. Edward III in his characteristic
overconfidence and arrogance, refused to hear any of them. He
did not need the interference of an adversarial king and the
pope to deal with a situation he felt he had already dealt
with. Scotland, as far as Edward III was concerned, had its
rightful king in place and had duly submitted to him, giving
him overlordship of Scotland forever. In addition, Edward III
had just expanded his own personal realm even greater by tbe
grant of most of lowland Scotland and scarcely needed help to
resolve a situation he had already resolved.
Neither Edward III nor his puppet Balliol were prepared
for the Scots next move. The leadership of the Scots cause
was taken up by two young men, Robert the Steward (barely
eighteen years old) and John Randolph, the earl of Moray (not
yet eighteen). Both had nothing to lose and everything to
gain by opposing the English. Robert had recently fled his
ancestral lands in Bute and castle Rothesay in the face of an
English occupying force. Randolph, infected by the patriotism
of his predecessor and his unbridled youth, jumped at the
chance to aggrieve the English.
When Randolph returned from France with the invitation
for David II to become a guest of the French king Philip VI he
also began plans to remove the English and Balliol from
Scotland. Stewart and Randolph quickly joined forces and
declared themselves the new Guardians of Scotland.71 Since
Balliol had seen fit to give away most of lowland Scotland,
the Guardian’s found little resistance amongst the Scottish
nobility to their plans. Immediately they embarked upon a
71 They actually declared themselves Guardians after they had liberated
most of the southwest
military campaign to remove Balliol. They overran most of
southwest Scotland/zin short order only meeting resistance in
Galloway, a region historically divided in allegiances between
the king and Balliol. Galloway saw a great deal of slaughter
as age old antagonisms assisted the Galwegians in mutually
The new Guardians’ next targets were the lands Balliol
had recently given over to the English crown. Dissent grew
among the disinherited over some lands that Balliol no longer
had to give, in the end causing the defection to the Bruce
party of Alexander and Geoffrey Mowbray. Balliol’s allies
offered ineffective resistance at best with little help coming
from the English; they were woefully undermanned:
Gilbert Burden, the newly appointed sheriff of
Peebles, commanded eight men at arms and twelve
hobelars. Aso sheriff of Edinburgh John Kingston
deployed ten men-at-arms and twenty hobelars.
William Wessington, sheriff of Dumfries, had fifteen
men-at-arms and thirty hobelars. When William
Preston assumed custody of Jedburgh castle on 1 July
he brought with him only ten men-at-arms and ten
In August 1334, Balliol fled to Berwick followed by many of
the English administrators. Moray and the Stewart did so well
that they collected tribute from the lands newly ceded to the
English. As news of their success grew, so did their support;
_2 Nicholson, p. 130.
‘3 Nicholson, Edward III and the Scots, p. 164. See also PRO Warrants for
Issue, E.404, parcel 3 files 18, privy seal writ of June 16, 1334; PRO
Issue Roll E.404/276, m. 17, Friday July 29 1334.; PRO Issue Roll
e.403/282, m. 5, under May 15, 1335.
it came from all over Scotland. By the end of September on
the 27th day of the month, the Bruce party gained an erstwhile
ally in David of Strathbogie, the disinherited earl of Atholl
that figured so keenly in Balliol’s plans. Young John
Randolph, the earl of Moray, chased him to Lochaber where he
finally forced him to change sides. Balliol’s Scotland began
to look more like a fantasy with every passing day.74
As quickly as early August, Edward III heard the news of
the uprising in Scotland. He dragged his feet and did not
send aid until October, and then sent pardoned felons.75 By
the time these reinforcements set out from Newcastle, the
Scots held most of Edward Ill’s new territory. Fortunately
for the Scots, Edward III accomplished little other than to
rebuild Roxburgh castle yet again. By February 1335, after a
harsh winter, indiscriminate raiding throughout the western
lowlands by Balliol and Edward III, and hunting the enemy in
Peebles and Ettrick Forest, even these English troops went
home ostensibly for lack of funds. What raiding the English
did alienated Patrick the earl of March enough to succeed in
sending him back over to the Scots where he would remain until
In France, David II arrived in May, 1334, to the safety
and protection of the French court. Philip VI took the
14 Strathbogie’s allegiance was never more than tenuous at best. He merely
bided his time until the moment came for him to switch his allegiance yet
opportunity to taunt the English. He placed David II and his
small Scottish court in exile at the castle of Chateau
The gift of the castle accomplished several things on an
international level. First, it gave a certain legitimacy to
the Scottish cause. If Philip VI gave sanctuary to David II
and his court, he also sided with the Scots against Edward III
and Balliol. Second, by placing David II close to himself, he
perpetuated the idea that the French and the Scots cooperated
closely. Third, the castle chosen had some significance for
the English. Edward Ill’s ancestor, King Richard I of
England, had it constructed not only to keep an eye on the
French king, but also to threaten him. It appeared now that
Philip used it against the English as the English had used it
against the French almost one hundred fifty years before. The
impudence of such an act showed the growing contempt the
French had for the English over their growing problems, of
which Scotland played a small part.
With David II safely and firmly ensconced in France, the
Scots renewed their efforts to win back their homeland from
the Puppet and his English master. Philip VI, king of France,
sent envoys to discuss a truce between the Scots and English
to last from March to midsummer of 1335. Edward III readily
again. In effect, very much like the case of the earl of March in 1333.
75 Nicholson, Edward III and the Scot, p.167.
agreed to this because it gave him enough time to proceed with
his plans to invade Scotland once again. He arranged a naval
blockade of Scotland during the spring and two armies of sizes
for the period to assault Scotland at the expiration of the
truce at midsummer. Edward III left from Carlisle at the head
of a large army and Balliol left from Berwick at the head of
True to the formula of past success, the Scots refused to
engage these forces directly. They simply let the army pass
and took any target of opportunity that presented itself. For
example, the Count of Namur (cousin to Edward Ill’s queen)
arrived too late to leave with Edward Ill’s army. As he
hastened to catch up, the Scots under the Guardian John
Randolph, Sir William Douglas, Sir Alexander Ramsey, and
Patrick, the earl of March (newly returned to the Bruce
party), cornered him in the ruins of the Maidens’ Castle in
Edinburgh. Namur’s men76 accounted for themselves valiantly
but surrendered in the end. After the Scots secured the
promise of a ransom of four thousand pounds from them,
Randolph agreed to escort them to the border in safety. As
fortune would have it, English brigands and other base-born
men attacked, captured, and sent Randolph off to rot in
7o Bower reports that one of them was a woman. She charged a Scottish man-
at-arms named Robert Shaw and they mutually skewered each other with their
lances. Her gender was discovered as they pulled the armor off the dead
combatants. Bower, vol. 7, p. 113.
“carceribus dire”.77 Of his companions, William Douglas
escaped and his brother, James Douglas, fell to the superior
numbers of the English with many other brave men.
While this may not look like a Scottish victory at first
inspection, good did come of Randolph’s capture. First, the
removal of young Randolph from the scene worked to the Scots’
long-term advantage. Ever since Randolph had secured
Strathbogie’s defection to the Bruce party, the earl of Atholl
had done as much as possible to create tension amongst the
Scottish nobility. He scarcely concealed his hatred for
Randolph and William Douglas. At the parliament held by the
Bruce party in Dairsie in April 1335, Earl David led a party
of nobles loyal only to the Steward that created so much
division that nothing was accomplished.78 Second, the removal
of Randolph from the scene allowed a much more seasoned,
ruthless, and capable man to step to the fore, Sir Andrew
Sir Andrew had several attributes that sharpened the
resolve of the Scots and the Bruce party against Balliol and
the English. First, he had until April of 1335 been a
prisoner of Edward III (who in a weak moment allowed Moray and
his compatriot Sir William Douglas, to be known in the near
future as the Knight of Liddesdale, to ransom themselves),
‘7 Bower, vol. 7. p. 114. “terrible dungeons (prison cells)”
78 Bower, vol. 7. p. 109.
rotting long enough in an English jail to reaffirm his desire
to expel the English from Scotland. Second, Sir Andrew’s wife
was none other than Christian Bruce, a sister to King Robert
I, making him an uncle of David II. Third, Sir Andrew had
never crossed over to the other side the way so many other
Scottish nobles had. Lastly, with Sir Andrew as sole Guardian
there was no more worry of infighting between Guardians (which
had crept up between Robert the Steward and Randolph).
After John Randolph’s capture August of 1335, the English
and Balliol seized the initiative and made Perth once again
their headquarters for their supposed pacification of
Scotland.75 Earl David of Strathbogie, always of dubious
loyalty to the Bruce party, immediately made his way to Edward
III to make his peace with Balliol and him. At this time he
also spoke for Robert the Steward as well as other Scottish
nobles he managed to keep under his influence.80
Strathbogie soon found himself back in the good graces of
Edward III and Balliol. So much so that Balliol appointed him
75 At this point, Edward III was more interested in keeping what he felt
had been rightfully given him by Balliol than with helping Balliol pacify
Scotland. But he also understood that to keep his lands he had to pacify
Scotland, forcing him to continue to give the help to Balliol that he
needed. Shortly however, Edward III readjusted his priorities and they did
not include Scotland; he was more concerned about holding onto his
ancestral lands in France than his gifted lands in Scotland (that did not
really want to stay “gifted” anyway).
80 Robert the Steward here made his first opportunistic move, that which
would brand him of dubious loyalty to many Scots, including David II in
later years as discussions on David’s ransom and the government of Scotland
during the 1360s will bear out.
his lieutenant of Scotland in the north.81 All seemed to be
falling into line for Balliol; the Bruce party had lost one
Guardian and the other, with many of the nobles, had sued for
peace. The sheer size of the army the Edwards escorted to
Perth intimidated many Scots into contemplating submission.
Balliol and Edward III made it even easier by authorizing a
full amnesty for all transgressions up until August 18, 1335,
if the Scots would but submit.
Balliol had great hopes for his Pacification, as did
Edward III. By September they were so confident that it would
succeed that Edward III dismissed arbitration attempts by the
pope and the French, stating that “by immense labors he had
now established peace with the Scots.”82 Earl David of Atholl
returned to Edward Ill’s peace. Action from Ireland against
Robert the Steward convinced him to strike a deal with Balliol
and Edward III. Through sheer persistence on the part of
Edward III, Scotland came closer to total submission by the
It took something of magnitude to alter the course
established by the young English king. Edward III busily
strengthened his position; however, he also weakened it. His
continued success depended on that of Balliol, now nearly
impoverished after giving away nearly all the wealth he could
81 Ironic really, because there was not much left of Scotland after
Balliol’s gift except for the north.
lay claim. If Balliol fell, or could not help, Edward III
would not succeed. The successes of 1335 for Balliol and the
English paled next to the failure of Balliol’s chief adherent,
David of Strathbogie. A_s Strathbogie took to the field to
bring the rest of Scotland to Balliol’s feet, ironically he
heralded the beginning of final victory for the Bruce party
and the defeat of Balliol and Edward III.
Next Chapter 3: Setting the Stage
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
Disclaimer Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan International Societ
Only recently, since the beginning of the twentieth
century, has fourteenth—century Scotland received much
examination. With the exception of the works of such scholars
as G. W. S. Barrow (who has done an excellent biography on
Robert I, king of Scotland), and a handful of other authors
who have provided general overviews of Scotland, in-depth
examinations of this period of Scottish history have largely
been ignored by most scholars.1 This deficiency of
scholarship extends to the topic of this work, David II, king
of Scotland from 132 9 to his death in 1371.
David II, king of Scotland from 1329 to his death in
1371, reigned over forty years and had an undeniable effect on
medieval Scottish history. However, the lack of current
scholarship directly associated with David II (born in 1324),
only reinforces the conception of him most nineteenth and
twentieth century historians have as a weak and do-nothing
king. Certain undeniable facts seem to support this view :
namely his government in exile in France during his formative
years; his subsequent capture and imprisonment for eleven
years during what could have been the height of his power; and
an attempted rebellion by his heir apparent and two of his
most powerful nobles. All three illustrate such weakness.
However, David II not only overcame these handicaps to his
1 Only recently within the last fifteen years has there been a resurgence
of scholarly work on the fourteenth century.
reign but also left his mark on Scotland’s future. David II,
king of Scotland from 1329 to 1371, influenced the fourteenth
century more than any other Scottish historical figure of the
period with the possible exception of his father, Robert I. I
intend to show through a presentation of the facts that David
II was not a weak or indecisive king totally given over to
self-indulgence, but a strong monarch that helped lead
Scotland through a difficult time not of his own creation.
During the last decade of the thirteenth century and the
early decades of the fourteenth century, the Scots fought the
great War for Scottish Independence. It generated heroes
(such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and the “Good Sir
James” Douglas to name a few) who live on in legend even
today. Great families fell, and lesser families rose to
prominence. The legacy left behind at the war’s end
in 1327 with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, namely
Scottish unity, lasted a scant five years.
However, the impact of the accomplishments of the Bruce
and his allies did not totally dissolve when Edward Balliol,
the Pretender, marched north to assume the throne in 1332.
The Scots recognized the need for unity. Unfortunately, they
were just as unable to get behind a single man effectively as
they had been during the Interregnums of 128 6 to 12 92 and 12 9 6
to 1306.2 They had as their choices of rallying points a weak
2 Two of the problems the Scots had were their fierce independence and
political infighting. The nobility was unwilling to act as a whole behind
and adolescent Robert Stewart,3 their boy-king’s heir, the
boy-king David II himself, or yet another Guardian of
The Scots chose the last. Only a few farsighted
individuals had the honor and strength of will to support yet
another option, the institution of the Crown itself. (David
II rewarded these loyalists handsomely upon his return to
Scotland after nearly a decade in exile.) Even so the Scots
saw limited success until all three rallying points became in
fact the same. With the king’s heir, crown loyalists, and the
Guardian all supporting the idea of the Crown, the Scots
finally rekindled a portion of what burned so brightly for
them during the 1320s, nascent nationalism.
Throughout the bulk of his minority, David II contributed
to the cause only by the use of his family name as a focus for
the Scottish patriots of his time. Royal holdings in Scotland
nearly disintegrated by the mid-1330s. They would have
entirely disappeared had it not been for the efforts of the
Guardian Andrew Moray and a few others acting for the crown.
Moray slowly revived the loyalists and began the arduous task
of regaining lost land, strongholds, and allegiances from the
puppet king, Edward Balliol.4
one man during these periods, which created the problem. And no single
strong ruler appeared to take that position.
3 Later King Robert II (1371-1390).
4 This was the same Moray that was captured while trying to capture Balliol
in 1332. He was to remain inactive for approximately two years after his
release from captivity. Edward III allowed him to be ransomed in 1333.
By 1342, David II returned to a nearly recovered
Scotland. He rewarded those he deemed loyal, such a Sir
Malcolm Fleming, as well as those who needed rewarding because
it was the politic thing to do (Robert the Steward comes to
mind). David II began an aggressive campaign against the
English to recover what lands remained in English hands. By
1346, David II succeeded well enough to raid on English soil,
an action that provoked confrontation with an English army at
Neville’s Cross proved a turning point in David II’s
career. The king found himself wounded and placed in
captivity for the next eleven years. This created opportunity
for the more ambitious members of the Scottish nobility not
only to regain more Scottish lands for Scotland, but also to
advance their own personal causes at the expense of the king’s
authority. To be sure, the Scots retained a Guardian in the
name of the heir-apparent Robert the Steward, but it soon
became obvious that the Steward was more interested in
advancing his own personal power than in bringing David II
David II survived his captivity by consorting with the
enemy. He enjoyed the courtesy of Edward III and may even
have become an admirer. Some scholars have suggested a
possible friendship between the two as David II upon his
return to Scotland was said to have emulated Edward Ill’s love
of pageantry. Whether or not this was true, David II’s return
certainly affected the Steward and his allies in ways they had
not considered plausible.
Assuming that David II stood a good chance of allowing
the Steward to continue his administration of the land, Robert
expected more honor than he received, even though David yet
again richly rewarded him upon his return from captivity.
From 1357 to his death in 1371 at the age forty-seven, David
II ruled Scotland more absolutely than the Steward cared for.
He did so with a style all his own, having learned from some
of the best examples possible during his years of exile and
David II learned much while away from his homeland in how
to govern a kingdom without the permission of the greatest
nobles of his kingdom. Scottish lords had a difficult time
accepting this, being used to a near absolute control of their
own domains and subsequently Scotland itself. Indeed the
greatest of these nobles, the heir-apparent Robert the Steward
himself, viewed David II’s governmental style with such
contempt he engineered a rebellion with one of his long time
companions William Douglas, the newly created earl of Douglas.
With the aid of several of his closest confidants, David
II succeeded in quickly breaking the back of the rebellion and
humbling Robert the Steward. After his last and final return
from foreign soil, David II used lesser noblemen in key posts
throughout his kingdom to guarantee action when he needed it.
The king of Scotland no longer had to rule at the pleasure of
his nobility as long as he controlled key offices with men
loyal only to himself, a kind of Scottish ministeriales.
These men aided David II in carrying out policy where the
nobility may have argued. The best of them, Archibald
Douglas, went on after David II’s death to become major
nobility in his own right, ending his days much more powerful
than even David II envisioned.
It is my intention through close examination of the reign
of David II to show that he was not a weak king, nor as
incompetent as many historians would have him appear. David
II made significant contributions to foreign as well as
domestic policy and helped bring the Scots out of an era
fraught with conflict. By his release in 1357, David II
emerged as politically astute and savvy as Edward III appeared
when dealing with internal and external foes. David’s
government dealt with some difficult problems: a declining
work force, an exorbitant ransom which Scotland was at the
very least unwilling and at the most unable to pay, English
lords in possession of Scottish lands along the borders, and
an erstwhile ally in the French for support in the Scots wars
against England. Far from the do-nothing king some scholars
choose to see him as, David II earned the honor that went with
the Bruce name.
The source material for the study of David II’s reign
comes from basically two types : chronicles and governmental
records. Due to the fact that Scotland did not enjoy premier
status amongst European nations during the middle ages,
chronicles that actually cite their events remain few. In
addition, nearly all the contemporary fourteenth-century
chronicles contain a decided English bias as most of them were
written either by Englishmen or in England. Scottish
chronicles of the period are based on works completed shortly
after the death of David II. It is not possible to determine
what additional sources were available to the Scottish
chroniclers than the English, but almost invariably the bias
found in them is neither as strong as the pro-English bias
found in English chronicles, nor is it specifically pro
Scotland in its entirety. Numbers and descriptions of events
are generally more accurate. By contrast, one can never be
sure of those facts if one looks, for example, at ballads.
They tend not only to popularize certain events, but also to
place certain people in places they could not have been, or
doing things we know from other sources that they could not
possibly have done.
Several chronicles are more important with respect to
Scotland in the fourteenth century than the rest. The
Frenchman Froissart wrote a chronicle about the first half of
the Hundred Years War. The chronicle itself is concerned
mainly with the events of the war on the continent, but
occasionally Scotland, being at certain times important to the
progress of the war for both the French and the English, does
make an appearance. Froissart actually went to Scotland
during the second half of the fourteenth century reportedly to
research his chronicle. One might expect a contemporary
account such as this to hold immense value and be highly
accurate when describing events. Unfortunately, historians
have long taken great pains to point out the inaccuracy of his
work. Froissart appears not nearly as well informed as one
might hope when examined through other corroborating sources
about specifics involved in certain events. Nevertheless, his
general history of the period is quite useful.
Another chronicle equally important to the subject is
Andrew of Wyntoun’s Original Chronicle. Not much is known of
Andrew of Wyntoun, other than that he “… became a canon-
regular in the Augustine Priory of St. Andrews; that he was
about or shortly after 1393 made Prior of St. Serf’s in
Lochleven; that documentary references show him still in
office as prior, apparently until the close of 14 21.”5 He
lived until at least 1421, for petitions to the Pope
5 Andrew Wyntoun, The Original Chronicle of Andrew Wyntoun. with an
Introduction by F. J. Amours, (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons,
1914), vol. 1, p. xxxiii.
concerning him exist in December of that year.6 Wyntoun
almost certainly used John of Fordun’s Chronicle of the
Scottish Nation, as a source although he never recognized him
other than as an anonymous author. Nevertheless, there are
several passages lifted directly from Fordun. Some rationale
for this behavior might stem from his reported dislike of
Fordun, as he is generous in his acknowledgements of others.7
Regardless, Wyntoun wrote as a near contemporary of David II,
providing a useful interpretation of events which concurs with
those of his fellow authors on the subject.
In the late fourteenth century John of Fordun wrote his
Chronicle of the Scottish Nation, from the “earliest times”;
his presentation of the legendary period is doubtless
conjectural unless he had access to information that has since
been lost. Unfortunately, his treatment of the latter
fourteenth century is superficial. He makes few references
to David II and his young protégé Archibald “the Grim,”
although he does expand to a certain degree our knowledge of
other earlier magnates, particularly earlier Douglases in the
“Good Sir James” and William, the first earl.
Far more valuable is Walter Bower’s the Scotichronicon,
which supplements and continues Fordun. Bower’s
6 Wyntoun, pp. xxx-xxxv.
7 Wyntoun, pp. xxxix—xl. With respect to his writing, Wyntoun wrote in Old
Scots prose making for difficult reading at some points, but his modern
editor, F.J. Amours, provides a glossary and notes to the text.
Scotichronicon, published until recently only in Latin, has
frequently been confused with other works. In 1722, Thomas
Hearne, an English antiquarian, published John of Fordun’s
chronicle under the name of the Scotichronicon.8 While it
remains true that Bower expanded and continued Fordun’s work,
their works have always been separate. In 1977, a team of
Scottish scholars began work on a new edition. This edition is
a translation with the corresponding Latin text on the facing
page, along with notes concerning the various manuscripts of
the Scotichronicon and notes on the text itself. It is a
definitive work, not only on Bower, but also for the bulk of
fourteenth-century Scottish history’s primary sources.
The Book of Pluscarden, an abridged edition of Bower’s
Scotichronicon, appeared after Bower’s death.3 This work has
been translated. However, as it was published after Bower’s
death, some things in its text are different from Bower’s
original. These changes are not fundamental, merely
differences or exaggerations in numbers, usually prices,
wages, costs, numbers of troops, or numbers of people present
at a particular event, all of which are frequently
suspiciously high. Therefore, Bower’s figures will be used if
the actual figures are for some reason relevant to the
discussion. A possible explanation for these discrepancies
0 Walter Bower, Scotichronicon. ed. by D. E. R. Watt, (Aberdeen:
Aberdeen University Press, 1987), vol. 8, p. ix.
resides in the fact that this work was transcribed at a later
date, some thirty to eighty years after Bower’s death.
Chroniclers of all ages have the habit of changing information
slightly to suit what they have either heard, thought, or in
some cases discovered.
Two other more decidedly English chronicles are also
important to this work, the Chronicle of Lanercost and
Knighton”s Chronicle, written by Henry Knighton. The former
chronicle was composed by the monks at Lanercost, England,
near the border of Scotland and England yet remaining in
England. Lanercost felt the sting of frequent depredations
whenever the Scots crossed the borders on a raid into the
English countryside. As a result, the Lanercost chronicle is
decidedly anti-Scottish, and anti-David II. For example, the
chronicler on different occasions refers to David as a “wicked
king” or “David the Defaecator” and associates David with the
devil in pronouncing judgement on a captured knight.10
Knighton, a fourteenth century English contemporary, keeps his
writing more to facts than does the Lanercost chronicler.
However like many chroniclers, he gives implausible numbers of
troops and payments, such as Balliol entering Scotland after
the Battle of Neville’s Cross with over three hundred thousand
f Bower, vol. 8, pp.ix-x.
“° The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346. translated by Sir Herbert Maxwell,
(Glasgow: Jammes Maclehose and Sons, 1913), pp. 331-335.
men, or accepting the sum of £9,000 from certain Scottish
towns in payments for protection from his troops.11
Other chronicles exist but of much less importance for
the purposes of this work. Sources such as the Anonimalle
Chronicle and Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon contain valuable
information for the period, but little specifically relating
to the topic at hand. However, one last chronicle does hold a
certain importance and relevance, the Scalacronica by Sir
Thomas Gray. Gray was himself captured by the Scots near the
time of David II’s release from his English prison, and was
kept for several years in some comfort at Edinburgh castle
where he proceeded to write his chronicle. Even though Gray
was English, and thus had an English bias, he reports certain
events that appear in few other places, for instance the death
of Katharine Mortimer on the road near Soutra.12 His chronicle
concerns the events of England also, and while he relates
information about Scotland found in few other places, he did
not write his chronicle specifically for the Scots but rather
more for his king, Edward III.
The primary chronicle sources record the actions of
various individuals they have interest in, including apparent
prejudices along with the facts. However, there also exist
I- George Martin, ed. and trans., Knighton’s Chronicle 1337-1396. (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1995), pp. 7 6-79.
Sir Thomas Gray, Scalacronica; the Reigns of Edward I, Edward II, and
Edward III, trans. Sir Herbert Maxwell, (Glasgow: J. Maclehose & Sons,
other sources of information, namely charters, grants,
supplications, calendars, registers, exchequer and chamberlain
accounts, legal codes, ballads, and even local folklore. Some
of the listed sources provide more accurate versions of the
facts than others. For example, royal acts such as charters
and grants can provide an accurate picture of the important
individuals, residing or traveling with the king, at a
particular point during a year, through the list of witnesses
to charters issued by the king.
Some dangers of using grants and charters also reveal
themselves, especially English charters of approximately the
same period, for the accuracy of these witness lists is under
debate over whether or not they accurately represent people
present on the day of issuance.13 While discrepancies in
England may be checked using other sources, in Scotland very
few alternate sources exist. Also, Scottish monarchs had not
changed from the policy of frequent travel across the kingdom
yet, issuing charters and grants as they went, because of the
consistent unrest in some of the more remote and/or
independent areas of the kingdom.
Let us turn to a discussion of the charters issued under
the Great Seal of the king of Scotland. The evidence I have
derived from these charters comes mainly from the witness
lists. Each charter, regardless of who issued it, has at the
13 Bruce Webster, ed., Reqesta Regum Scottorum: The Acts of David II
(Edinburgh: University Press, 1982), pp. 8, 9.
end of the body of the text a list of the people who gathered
to witness the act for future generations. Information
gathered from these lists not only explains the nature of the
grant or charter (i.e., from whom to whom), but also, by
virtue of association, allies and possibly even retainers.
There are two volumes of primary importance, both of which
contain royal acts, in the Reqesta Regum Scottorum series : The
Acts of David II, 1329-1371, and the Register of the Great
Seal. Other primary source documents include the Calendar of
Documents Relating to Scotland, the Papal Registers, the
Rotuli Scaccarii Regum Scotorum (the accounts of the
exchequer), and the Compota Camerariorum Scotiae (the accounts
of the chamberlain), each of varying importance for the
purposes of this work.
Most important of these works for information concerning
associations with possible allies are the Calendar of
Documents Relating to Scotland and the Reqesta. These two
works give more information with respect to associations in
one manner or another than any of the other sources. Charters
comprise most of the evidence from the Regesta, while such
things as writs, commands, letters, safe conducts, and
negotiations with the king’s council make up much of the
information from the Calendar of Documents Relating to
Scotland. Various other documents, such as the Warrants for
Issues and Indentures of War, provide some interesting
information concerning the placement and holders of some
offices, but provide little or no information relevant to
I have searched other documents at the Public Record
Office in England, notably the Miscellanea of the Chancery, or
the Chancery Rolls. Also the Roman Rolls, Accounts Various
Army Navy and Ordinance, and Issues Rolls have been examined
and found lacking for the type of documents necessary to this
work. The Chancery Rolls contain some mention of calls to
arms and raising of troops for campaigns against the Scots,
including the punitive expedition mounted after the Battle of
Neville’s Cross.14 Issue Rolls as they relate to this work are
concerned primarily with outlays of cash to various
individuals for upkeep or transportation of individuals. It
is here that one may find evidence of how well David II lived
during his captivity and the expense the English king incurred
in keeping him.
Unlike the previous works, the Rotuli Scaccarii Regum
Scotorum and the Compota Camerariorum Scotiae provide
information concerning the amount of money individuals
received from the king by way of reimbursement or as payment
for services rendered, more specifically as they related to
David and his kingship. For example, the exchequer rolls list
Sir Archibald Douglas as receiving certain funds for his
position as custodian of Edinburgh castle in 1362. 15 Usually,
^ PRO, Miscellany of the Chancery, C47/2/6Q/(34).
15 George Burnett, ed. Rotuli Scaccarii Regum Scotorum (Edinburgh:
Neill and Company, 1878), vol. 2, p. 92.
reimbursements for outlays made in the name of the crown or in
the kingdom’s interests and approved of by the king appear
along with a brief description on what the money was spent.
Secondary sources have drawn from the primary source
material in a manner with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Some scholars, such as Ranald Nicholson and Bruce Webster,
have undertaken as unbiased a view possible while performing a
thorough review of all the primary source material at hand.
Others, such as P. Hume Brown; Fitzroy Maclean; William Croft
Dickinson; John Hill Burton (historiographer royal for
Scotland); J. 0. Mackie and Patrick Fraser Tytler have looked
at primary sources incompletely. As a result, they have an
incomplete and popularized view of David’s accomplishments and
For example, Hume Brown states that, “in spite of the
desires and endeavors of David II, Scotland found itself a
free and independent kingdom at his death.”16 Tytler found
that his “inconsistent wavering and contradictory line of
policy, … was the effect of his passion and caprice.”17 He
continues by saying that it “is humiliating to think that the
early death of the only son of Robert the Bruce must have been
regarded as a blessing, rather than a calamity, by his
country.”18 Mackie saw David II as “ineffective when he was at
16 P. Hume Brown, History of Scotland to the Present Time, vol. 1, (London:
Cambridge University Press, 1911), p. 145.
1- Patrick Tytler, The History of Scotland: from the Accession of Alexander
III to the Union, vol. 1, (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1869), p. 231.
Tytler, pi 232.
home.”19 Burton boldly illustrates his distaste for David II
even in his table of contents where he complains about David
II’s “unsatisfactory conduct … [and] … secret arrangements.”20
Dickinson accuses David II of negotiating with Edward III in a
manner unworthy of the son of Robert the Bruce.21 MacLean also
determined David II “far from being a worthy son of his
father.”22 Even an article by E. W. M. Balfour Melville
accused David II of striving “in league with Edward III to
induce his subjects to accept the English overlordship against
which their fathers had fought long and successfully.”23 Such
views of David II preclude an overall accurate picture of his
This type of treatment of historical figures is
unfortunate but is more common throughout the field than one
might expect. Having discussed briefly the nature of the
source material for David II, one must also have an overview
of Scotland in the middle of the fourteenth century.
Fourteenth-century Scotland began in a turbulent manner.
A war of rebellion against English rule raged back and forth
across the Scoto-English border. Occasionally, the Scots won
a battle enabling them, with their new leader, William
John Mackie, A History of Scotland, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.,
1964), p. 89.
John Hill Burton, The History of Scotland, vol. 2, second edition,
(Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1873), p. xi.
21 William Croft Dickinson, Scotland: from the earliest times to 1603,
JLondon: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, 1965), p. 183.
22 Fitzroy Maclean, A Concise History of Scotland, (New York: The Viking
Press, Inc., 1970), p. 47.
2” E. W. M. Balfour-Melville, Edward III and David II. (London: George
Philip & Son, 1954), p. 22.
Wallace, to strike the infrequent blow upon England, which
generally served to infuriate King Edward I of England. It
appalled him that the Scots would not simply lie down and
accept the governance of the realm by their “rightfully
acknowledged overlord.” Certainly he had just cause to be
upset, for the Scots could not seem to agree on anything
amongst themselves as evidenced by the participation of Scots
in the war on both sides. Perhaps Edward thought he truly
deserved to be overlord of Scotland; he certainly did desire
it. He was determined to bring the Scots to their knees for
their continued disobedience.
While Wallace remained in charge of Scotland’s army in
rebellion, this remained possible, not because Wallace was
incompetent, but because the Scottish nobility had trouble
allowing Wallace, an extremely able commander but not a
highborn noble, to lead them along with the commoners that
made up the bulk of his army. After Edward crushed Wallace’s
rebellion and allowed most of the dissident Scots to come back
into the fold, it looked as if there would finally be peace
for a while, to Edward anyway.24 Little did he suspect that a
noble in the person of Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, would
turn Scotland against him once more with a more devastating
Two Scots that were not repatriated were, of course, Wallace, whom
Edward rightly saw as probably the most serious threat to him because of
his exceptional military skill, and William “the Tough” Douglas, father of
the “Good Sir James,” who he thought would never surrender to English rule.
In this, Edward was most certainly correct.
Leading a new revolt against the English in 1306, Robert
Bruce had a few advantages that escaped Wallace. First, his
highborn family did not suffer from relative obscurity as did
Wallace. Second, Robert Bruce happened to be the grandson in
direct descent of Robert Bruce the Competitor, who along with
a dozen others had vied for the throne of Scotland when it
became vacant at the death of Alexander III in 128 6. Third,
this Robert Bruce had served Edward well against the Scots of
the previous revolt, possibly allowing him some small amount
of time while Edward recuperated from his shock at Bruce1 s
With the help of several other key individuals over the
next twenty-two years, including the “Good Sir James” Douglas,
William Lamberton Bishop of St. Andrews, Edward Bruce
(Robert’s brother), and Thomas Randolph (his nephew), Robert
Bruce succeeded in gaining a lasting independence for Scotland
from England. Unfortunately for Scotland, he then promptly
died in 132 9, supposedly of leprosy, though this remains
uncertain as there exists no proof of the cause of death.25 He
left as co-regents Randolph and Douglas, an arrangement he
knew would cause problems for the kingdom. King Robert knew
that Douglas had proven himself the more able commander and
certainly the more loyal, for Randolph had originally sided
25 Ranald Nicholson, Scotland: The Later Middle Ages (Edinburgh: Oliver
& Boyd, 1974), pp. 121-2.
with the English. However, Randolph was the king’s nephew,
and though rash, would be followed more readily by the rest of
the nobility because of his kinship with the king. Therefore
on his deathbed, King Robert made Douglas promise to go on
crusade and convey his heart to the Holy Land, knowing that
the two strong personalities of Randolph and Douglas would not
work well together. While this seemed a good plan to Robert
and indeed showed great prudence, disaster pounced on the
Scots when they had finally achieved all of their goals.
Douglas never made it to the Holy Land. He stopped off
in Spain to fight the Muslims (which was acceptable as a
crusade) where he met his death in battle, reportedly with the
heart of Bruce around his neck. Within two years, Randolph
had also died, leaving the kingdom in the hands of Sir Andrew
of Moray. As if this were not enough, Edward III of England,
from whose government the Scots had finally won recognition in
1328 with the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, came forcibly
to his majority in 1330.
The life of David II began with all the advantages one
might expect. Robert Bruce, David II’ s father, created a
Scotland for David that was united, internally peaceful,
prosperous, protected by powerful allies, and able to project
real power for the first time since the king of Scots William
the Lion (1165-1214) in the twelfth century. Robert forced
the English the sign the humiliating Treaty of Edinburgh-
Northampton in 1328, guaranteeing David II’s indisputable
succession to the throne of a truly independent Scotland. A
scant one year later, the now boy-king David II, having
succeeded at his father’s death, began to have his entire
world torn from him.
Sir Henry Beaumant, one of king Robert’s hated
Disinherited, began to organize a faction to address the loss
of his and his ally’s lands in Scotland with the Scottish
government. He met with no success. Scotland would not
return to a traitor what they forfeited by their actions
against their rightful king during the War for Scottish
Independence. Early drafts of the Treaty of Edinburgh-
Northampton even stated there would be no compensation for the
Disinherited on either side of the border. Beaumant thought
differently and began to organize an expedition to not only
recover his lands, but to ultimately remove the rightful king
of Scotland in favor of the English puppet, Edward Balliol,
son of the hapless king John Balliol, who forfeited his entire
kingdom in 1296.
Edward III backed Edward Balliol (the son of John Balliol
who received the kingship as a result of Edward I’s judgment
in 1292 and resigned it to the same in 1296), and his claim
through his father to the Scottish throne.20 Throughout the
1330s and 1340s Scotland had continuing warfare inside and
outside its borders. At the Battle of Neville’s Cross in
134 6, Scotland again — as had previously happened at the
Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 — lost a large portion of its
nobility to the English. Unfortunately, King David II was
taken prisoner along with many other nobles, including William
Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale.
For the next eleven years, Scotland had to endure the
humiliation of having its king held hostage and the loss of
much of the land that had been recovered during the 1330s and
1340s after the debacle of Halidon Hill. However, by the mid
1350s, especially after the death of the Knight of Liddesdale
at the hands of his godson, William Douglas, Lord of Douglas,
the future first earl of Douglas, Scotland began to recover
much of the border lands then held by the English. Edward
Ill’s scheme to acquire Scotland in the 1350s rested to a
great extent upon the Knight of Liddesdale.27 After the
Knight’s elimination in 1353, the Lord of Douglas attained
control of the borders, effectively spoiling Edward’s plans.28
Another thorn in Scotland’s side removed itself a scant
three years later. Edward Balliol finally resigned his rights
to the kingdom of Scotland in 1356 and the mild chaos of the
Nicholson, pp. 123-63.
2′ In 1352, the Knight entered into an agreement with Edward III which not
only invested the Knight with some of the lands he formerly held, but also
guaranteed his cooperation with the king of England and his heirs against
any of the king’s enemies. At the same time it guaranteed Edward III free
passage into Scotland through the Knight’s lands at any time, so that
Edward III gained an entry point for his armies.
’30s and ’40s subsided to a constant rumble.29 Rarely during
the rest of the century did either the Scots or the English
participate in more than border raiding at anything close to
the frequency of the 1320s, the height of the War for
Independence. Most of the English efforts at conquest were
directed at France, an infinitely more attractive prize to
most Englishmen, including Edward III.
From the death of Robert the Bruce to his son’s return
from exile in 1342, Scotland’s domestic political fortunes
endured massive shifts dependant upon who controlled the bulk
of the country at the time (the Royalists or the Usurpers),
and who led the Bruce party in resisting the usurpers. The
instability of the first thirteen years of David II’s reign
characterizes the period and makes it suitable for study.
David returned to Scotland from his exile in France at
Chateau Gaillard in 1342 to a much-changed Scotland. Once
again Scotland was relatively safe from the then internal
prédation brought on by Edward Balliol and his ilk. The
Pretender ensconced himself in Galloway where his claim
Nicholson, p. 159.
25 Nicholson, p. 161.; Edward Ill’s policy of investing Balliol with men
and money to make his own bid for the control of Scotland came to an
uneventful end when the money and men Edward III had supplied him with
dried up. However, when Balliol resigned his rights to the kingdom of
Scotland, he became a pensioner of the English king with an annuity of two
thousand pounds and a substantial sum as a gift to pay off old debts.
Balliol in the end helped the Scots more by uniting them and by causing
Edward III to not only pay him a large sum of money as an annuity, but also
by closing one more avenue by which Edward III had hoped to gain control of
received the most support from old ties the Balliol family had
to the territory. This meant that David II was free to begin
the work of recovering the portions of his kingdom sold off by
Balliol to the English as payment for his crown.
Unfortunately for David II, the failed military
enterprise at Neville’s Cross in England ended his personal
involvement in the process for the next eleven years.
However, Scotland benefited enough from the accomplishments
and attitudes of some sufficiently able individuals (William
Douglas, the Knight of Liddesdale for one) to allow it to
recover from the disaster of 134 6 and progress towards
recovery. Therefore the second portion of David II’s career
suitable for examination runs from 1342 until his return in
Upon David II’s return from captivity, he resumed the
reigns of government. This time however, David rewarded the
faithful and at the same time kept an eye on those most likely
to cause him trouble, especially Robert the Steward and his
allies. Eleven years of cooling his heels in the Tower of
London and Odiham castle did nothing to increase David’s love
for his nephew, Robert the Steward, lieutenant of Scotland and
one of the primary negotiators for his safe return. A brief
period of approximately two years existed where David appeared
Scotland. Now he had only a personal claim, which had already been found
to be baseless by his own treaty with the Scots early in his reign.
to follow the lead of some of the great barons of his realm,
namely Robert Steward and William Douglas, both of whom he
awarded with earldoms in 1358. Ranald Nicholson reported the
change in the political climate adequately.
“Yet it soon became clear that the great nobles were
being excluded from the king’s inner counsels.
David’s mistress, Katharine Mortimer, seemed a fit
victim for their resentment.”30
In the June of 1360, Richard Holly and another man named Dewar
belonging to Thomas Stewart, earl of Angus, murdered her while
she was in the king’s company coming back to Scotland from
England near Soutra.31 For this, Thomas Stewart paid with his
life in Dumbarton castle later that summer.32
Following the death of the earl of Angus, Robert Steward
and his allies the earls of March and Douglas openly opposed
David II in a short-lived attempt at overthrowing royal power
with their own. David put down the rebellion quickly. The
previous year, Queen Joan died in England, allowing David
another chance to marry and produce an heir. He married
Margaret Logie in the spring of 1363 much to the consternation
of the Steward. For the next six years, David struggled with
the issue of the ransom and to produce an heir. By 1369, he
had divorced Queen Margaret and within the next year had
planned to marry yet again. By his death in February of 1371,
30 Ranald Nicholson, Scotland: The Later Middle Acres. (Edinburgh: Oliver &
Boyd, 1974), p. 168.
3* Gray. pp. 162-163.
32 Bower, vol. 7. pp. 320-21.
David II had reached a stable and beneficial arrangement
concerning the ransom, but had failed to produce an heir.
Through the end of David II’s and the first half of
Robert II’s reigns, most of the fighting that took place
benefited the Scots. By the 1370s the Scots had slowly
recovered almost all they had lost to the English at Halidon
Hill and Neville’s Cross. At the death of the childless David
II, Robert the Steward became King Robert II of Scotland. He
came to the throne as a man advanced in years; he no longer
had the temperament for warfare. The lackluster manner in
which he governed during David II’s imprisonment nearly
guaranteed a weak kingship.
Throughout the next three reigns (Robert II’s, Robert
Ill’s, and James I’s) the Stewart monarchy found itself
plagued by a growing and unchecked power of the nobility. It
was only halted by an aggressive and vigorous campaign against
noble power by James II and his successors, over sixty years
after David II had accomplished the same during the last
thirteen years of his reign. The Stewart’s saw at last the
wisdom of David II’s policy. David’s policy grew not by
chance but by choice. As a result of years of personal
hardship, and the ability to watch and learn from Edward III
(albeit from prison), David pursued the only course that would
allow him to rule Scotland in deed as well as name. The
following chapters will not only outline his life, but also
how it became apparent to him that if he wanted to rule
Scotland, he had to ultimately find the power and influence
do it by himself.
The rest of the chapter follow on the main blog page.
BRUCE ROBERT HOMAN
DR GAIL CARUTHERS BOHANNON GRAY – CCHS – SEANACHAIDHI
CLAN CARRUTHERS INT SOCIETY CCIS HISTORIAN AND GENEALOGIST
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