After the Scots had in the night quitted the mountains, where the young king Edward and the nobles of England had held them besieged, as you have before heard, they marched twenty-two leagues from that desert country without halting, and crossed the Tyne pretty near to Carlisle, where by the orders of the chiefs all disbanded, and went to their own homes. Shortly afterward some of the lords and barons so earnestly solicited the king of England, that a truce was agreed on between the two kings for three years.
During this truce, it happened that king Robert of Scotland, who had been a very valiant knight, waxed old, and was attacked with so severe an illness1, that he saw his end was approaching; he therefore summoned together all the chiefs and barons, in whom he most confided, and, after having told them, that he should never get the better of this sickness, he commanded them, upon their honour and loyalty, To keep and preserve faithfully and entire the kingdom for his son David, and obey him and crown him king when he was a proper age, and to marry him to a lady suitable to his station.
He after that called to him the gallant lord James Douglas, and said to him, in presence of the others, "My dear friend lord James Douglas, you know that I have had much to do, and have suffered many troubles, during the time that I have lived, to support the rights of my crown: at the time that I was most occupied, I made a vow, the nonaccomplishment of which gives me much uneasiness - I vowed that, if I could finish my wars in such a manner, that I might have quiet to govern peaceably, I would go and make war against the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the adversaries of the Christian faith.To this point my heart has always leaned; but our Lord was not willing, and gave me so much to do in my lifetime, and this last expedition has lasted so long, followed by this heavy sickness, that, since my body cannot accomplish what my heart wishes, I will send my heart in the stead of my body to fulfil my vow. And, as I do not know any one knight so gallant or enterprising, or better formed to complete my intentions that yourself, I beg and entreat you, dear and special friend, as earnestly as I can, that you would have the goodness to undertake this expedition for the love of me, and to acquit my soul to our Lord and Savior; for I have that opinion of your nobleness and loyalty, that, if you undertake it, it cannot fail of success - and I shall die more contented; but it must be executed as follows:-
"I will, that as soon as I am dead, you take my heart from my body, and have it well embalmed; you will also take as much money from my treasury as will appear to you sufficient to perform your journey, as well as for all those you may choose to take with you in your train; You will then deposit your charge at the Holy Sepulchre of our Lord, where he was buried, since my body cannot go there. You will not be sparing of expense - and provide yourself with such company and such things as may be suitable your rank - and wherever you pass, you will let it be known, that you bear the heart of king Robert of Scotland, which you are carrying beyond the seas at his command, since his body cannot go thither."
All those present began bewailing bitterly; and when the lord James could speak, he said. "Gallant and noble king, I return you a hundred thousand thanks for the high honour you do me, and for the valuable and dear treasure with which you entrust me; and I will most willingly do all that you command me with the utmost loyalty in my power; never doubt it, however I may feel myself unworthy of such a high distinction."
The king replied, "Gallant knight, I thank you - you promise it me then?"
"Certainly, sir, most willingly," answered the knight. He then gave his promise upon his knighthood.
The king said, "Thanks be to God! for now I shall die in peace, since I know that the most valiant and accomplished knight of my kingdom will perform that for me which I am unable to do for myself."
Soon afterwards the valiant Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, departed this life, on the 7th of November, 1337. His heart was embalmed, and his body buried in the monastery of Dunfermline. Shortly after died also the noble earl of Moray, who was one of the most gallant and powerful princes in Scotland: he bore for arms, argent, three pillows gules2
Early in the spring, the lord James Douglas, having made provisions of every thing that was proper for his expedition, embarked at the port of Montrose, and sailed directly for Sluys in Flanders, in order to learn if anyone were going beyond the sea to Jerusalem, that he might join companies. He remained there twelve days, and would not set his foot on shore, but staid the whole time on board, where he kept a magnificent table, with music of trumpets and drums, as if he had been the king of Scotland. His company consisted of one knight banneret, and seven others of the most valiant knights of Scotland, without counting the rest of his household. His plate was of gold and silver, consisting of pots, basins, porringers, cups, bottles, barrels, and other such things. He had likewise twenty six young and gallant esquires of the best families in Scotland to wait on him; and all those who came to visit him were handsomely served with two sorts of wine and two sorts of spices - I mean those of a certain rank. At last, after staying at Sluys for twelve days, he heard that Alphonso, king of Spain, was waging war against the Saracen king of Granada. He considered, that if he should go thither he should employ his time and journey according to the late king's wishes; and when he should have finished there he would proceed further to complete that with which he was charged. He made sail therefore towards Spain, and landed first at Valentia, thence he went straight to the king of Spain, who was with his army on the frontiers, very near the Saracen king of Granada.
It happened, soon after the arrival of lord Jamed Douglas, that the king of Spain issued forth into the fields, to make his approaches nearer the enemy; the king of Granada did the same; and each king could easily distinguish each other's banners, and they both began to set their armies in array. The lord James placed himself and his company on one side, to make better work, and a more powerful effort. When he perceived that the battalions on each side were fully arranged, and that of the king of Spain in motion, he imagined they were about to begin the onset; and as he always wished to be among the first than last on such occasions, he and his company stuck their spurs into their horses until they were in the midst of the king of Granada's battalion, and made a furious attack on the Saracens. He thought that he should be supported by the Spaniards; but in this he was mistaken, for not one that day would follow his example. The gallant knight and all his companions were surrounded by the enemy: they performed prodigies of valor; but they were of no avail, as they were all killed. It was a great misfortune that they were not assisted by the Spaniards3.
About this time, many of the nobles and others, desirous of a settled peace between the Scots and English, proposed a marriage between the young king of Scotland and the sister of the king of England. This marriage was concluded, and solemnized at Berwick, with great feasts and rejoicings on both sides.