AFTER the death of King Alexander III, the kingdom was without a King [for] 6 years and 9 months, as it was foretold by an old prophecy:
Rich soil robbed of a Prince, home
Twice three years, and nine months.
Yet the estates of the kingdom, till all controverted titles were discussed, did make choice of 6 protectors or governors, viz. South [of] the river of Forth, were chosen to govern,
Robert [Wishart], Bishop of Glasgow,
John Comyn, [Lord of Badenoch],
James [Stewart], [High] Steward of Scotland;
and the governors [to the] north of the river of Forth, were
William Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews,
Donnchadh, Earl of Fife,
[Alexander] Comyn, Earl of Buchan.
And this same year, after the parliament dissolved, one [of] the governors departed this life, viz. Donnchadh, Earl of Fife; in whose place was elected the Bishop of Dunkeld, [Matthew de Crambeth,] in a parliament held at Perth, the 15th day after Easter. Great were the disputes in this parliament about the succession to the crown; the main dispute being about [who had] the more valid [claim to the] title, Bruce or Balliol; the most voices went with the Bruce, in respect that
Robert Bruce was the first born heir male, and a degree nearer the crown than was John Balliol, although born [to] the second daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother to Malcolm IV. and William, Kings of Scotland. After long and much debate, (as said is,) the parliament concluded in this, that since the controversy was so intricate between their two prime pretenders, and the arguments on both sides so great and weighty; and that the pretenders daily increased in number, that did absolutely submit the determination and decision of that controversy to Edward, King of England: and to that effect, the parliament made choice of the Bishop of Brechin [William Comyn], the Abbot of Jedburgh [John Morel], and Sir Geoffrey [de] Mowbray, whom they sent [as] ambassadors to King Edward [I.] of England, to know his determination; who took their journey from Scotland to Gascony in [southwest] France, where then King Edward was.
In 1287, Pope Honorius [IV.] departs this life, at Rome, the 5th day of the month of April; and to his succeeded, in the pontifical chair, Jerome [Masci] of Piceno, general of [the] order of St Francis, and Cardinal Palestrina. After his election, he was called Pope Nicholas IV.
About the beginning of the month of February, 1288, Leszek [II.], King of Poland, departs this mortal life [childless]; and that kingdom wanted a King for diverse years, until that Przemysł [II.] was crowned King.
This year, 1289, Elphy, Sultan of Egypt and Babylon, takes from the Christians, Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli, and Ptolemais [Acre]; and the Christians for the most part fleeing from these places to the Island of Cyprus, were all drowned in the sea.
Now to begin with the year of our redemption 1290, wherein died the father of furies, Ertuğrul or Orthrogull, (as some write him,) father of Osman, the first King of the Turks, and the ground stone of the Ottoman empire, the plague and scourge of all that bears the name of Christian.
In 1291, dies Rudolf [of Germany], the Roman Emperor, the 15th day of July, aged 73 years and 5 months, and in the 18th years of his reign, and was interred at Speyer. His funeral ceremonies performed, the electors met and chose for Roman Emperor, Adolf [of Germany], Earl of Nassau, who was solemnly crowned this year at Aix-le-Chapelle.
After a world of business and turmoil, wherein the state of Scotland was plunged and tossed in by a political and ambitious judge, to whose determination they, in a parliament at Perth, had foolishly submitted that which only belonged to them properly to judge of; at last King Edward of England, for his own private ends, to the great detriment of the Scottish commonweal, against all law and equity, discerns in favour of John Balliol, who was accordingly solemnly crowned at Scone, the last day of November, in 1292, not without the contrary protestation of many of each estate present; the greatest being absent.
In March, 1293, Humbert, Dauphin of Viennois, invests himself in a monkish habit, and altogether quitting the world, retires to a solitary cell, leaving his estate to his son.
This same year, likewise, Egidius [Colonna, Giles of Rome,] published his book, of the Government of Princes, wherewith these times was much taken.
The year 1294, being the 3rd year of the reign of the Emperor Adolf, on the 7th of July, Peter of Morrone, Abbot of St. Benevento, was elected Pope, by the name Celestine V., one not fit for affairs. He willingly resigned the Papacy, the 13th day of December this same year; and in his place, the 24th day of the said month, Cardinal [Benedetto] Caetani was elected Pope, by the name of Boniface VIII.
In 1295, is through the world famous, in respect this is the year, by [Joannes] Stumphius, said to be it wherein the Helvetians laid the first foundation of their Republic; and began, of hard bred mountaineers, piece [by] piece, to wrest themselves out of the talons of the German Eagle.
This year, Sancho IV., King of Castile, departs this life, leaving a son, aged 4 years, named Ferdinand [IV.], to succeed him, with whom our King, David II., entered in league.
Towards the end of the month of March, 1296, John Comyn, Lord of Strathbogie, basely and traitorously, contrary to his faith, delivered King John [& his son Edward] to Edward, King of England, at the castle of Montrose in Angus, in the fourth year of King John’s reign.
In the year 1297, Sir William Wallace, knight, in a parliament held at Perth, was, by the estates of the realm, made Protector of the kingdom. He defeated the English at Stirling bridge, and regained the castle of Cupar.
This year, in parliament held at Scone, while Edward of England was busy in France, there were 12 protectors chosen for [the] defense of the kingdom; amongst which was John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, [which] by the said parliament [was] made general of the Scottish army, and sent immediately to infest the English borders.
In the month of May this year, also, comes Edward of England to the border, with a great army. After a conflict with the Scots, wherein Sir Patrick Graham [of Kincardine] was killed, the rest fled to Dunbar castle, which King Edward forthwith besieged; but the 4th day it was traitorously rendered to him by Richard [Hastings] Steward, a base and villainous wretch, the keeper of it; and in it were taken and instantly killed, contrary [to] the tyrant’s faith given, amongst whom were, William, Earl of Ross, and [Alexander] the Earl of Menteith, with above 70 knights and men of quality, besides common soldiers.
In 1298, was fought the memorable battle of Falkirk, in Linlithgowshire, between William Wallace, knight, general of the Scottish army, and King Edward, surnamed Longshanks, the tyrant of England, wherein Donnchadh, Earl of Fife, and Sir John Stewart, with their whole followers, were almost all killed.
This same year, Sir William Wallace, the Protector, besieged the castle of Dundee in Angus, and took the same, the last of September, and put all the English therein to the sword; and upon the next day, being the first of November, he engaged the English army on Craigmore, commanded by Sir Hugh Cressingham, with whom he fought a very great battle, and killed above 4000 English, with their general, Cressingham. None of the Scots died that day of note, save only Sir Andrew Murray, the father of noble Sir Andrew Murray, who was thereafter Governor of Scotland, and did soundly revenge his father’s death upon the English. On this battle, I find that Arnold Blair [of Dunfermline], chaplain to Wallace, has left us, in his diary, these monkish verses:-
The Scots took the valid warning to heart
William Wallace, and those teaching to attack,
As the nation of English, whom they hold as living prisoners,
To own Scots they quickly revert;
In addition to the King John
Then own the kingdom, if she were in debt
Serve the King, they can lose their rights.
Hence one thousand three hundred less one
The Scots will win the year
Embittered against the English, they render his funeral with heavy heart,
As it is marked by a great war, the bridge bears witness.
This year, the Protector, with his army, invades England, and with fire and sword destroys at Northumberland, and chases the English army over the river of Tyne, and so returns with a great spoil.
This same year, also, in the month of June, the battle of Black Earnside, in Fifeshire, was fought between Sir William Wallace, the Protector, and Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, general of the English army; in which battle the English were totally routed and overthrown. Sir Duncan Balfour, Sheriff of Fife, was killed, and Sir John Graham was hurt, only of the Scots of quality.
In August, this year, the Protector, accompanied with Sir John Graham, Sir John Menteith, and Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee, with 500 resolute soldiers, severely punished the foolish Galwegians, that had partied the English and Comyns against their own country; and in their return south, they, by night [on the 28th of August], burnt 300 English in the barns of Ayr.
In the beginning of the year 1299, the Protector overthrew the English in three great conflicts, near Perth, broke the bridge, so that the English in their flight were many of them drowned in the river Tay, with their commander, Sir John Widdrington.
In the month of May, this same year, the Protector, Sir William Wallace, [resigned] his government; in whose place was elected John [Red] Comyn [Lord of Badenoch], the younger, to be Governor, who did carry himself nobly and valiantly in defense of his country, till after the battle of Rosslyn, at which time he made [a] base defection to the English, and swore fealty to the tyrant, King Edward. Upon whose defection, Sir John Soules, Lord of Liddesdale, was made Governor.
In the year 1300, John [Red] Comyn, the Governor, defeated the English army several times; and this same year King Edward sent a great army to Fife, and miserably wasted the same. The Governor sent Sir John Fraser with 4000 men in their rear, who often cut them short, and [on the 12th of] June, in a battle near the castle of Lindores, assisted by Sir William Wallace, overthrew them quite, and killed their general, Sir John Siward [Earl of March’s son]. This battle is called Dillecarew field, wherein 3000 English were killed, and 500 taken [as] prisoners; the Scots lost not above 300, in respect the woods and passages of the mountains and quagmires were well known to them, only Sir John Seaton, Sir Thomas Lochore, and Sir John Balfour, Sheriff of Fife, were wounded and hurt.
In 1301, the Governor did relieve the castle of Lochleven, beseiged by the English, and took from them the castles of Lochore, Kennoway [Maiden], and Polduff, in Fife.
In the year 1302, the Governor and Sir John Fraser, with 8000 well-armed valiant men, engaged 30000 English, on Simon and Judes day [28th of October], near Rosslyn, between whom there was a cruel battle fought, wherein the Scots obtained an absolute victory, leaving 12000 of their enemies dead upon the place; the pursuit lasted 16 miles, even almost to Biggar west, in which pursuit many of the English fell likewise. In memory of which battle, Arnold, the chaplain, has left us these rhymes:
The second year of the thirteen hundredth,
Bight day recalling the feast of Mathias,
In Rosslyn field new grace shone from on high:
Of course in John Scots leader Comyn,
English mixed, it was Scottish victory.
This year, 1304, Robert Bruce beholding the calamities and oppressions wherewith the English ploughed the nation; out [of] a deep sense and commiseration of his own people, assumes courage, and concludes a band of confederacy, offensive and defensive, with John the Red Comyn, Lord of Cumbernauld [Badenoch].
In 1305, Robert Bruce having escaped the traps and snares of the English tyrant, by the treachery of John the Red Comyn, came to Lochmaben, and from there, accompanied [by] James Lindsay, and Roger Kilpatrick, went to Dumfries, the 13th of February, and in the church there having met with John Comyn, did accuse him of his wicked and perfidious dealing and treachery towards him, in revealing the bond of confederacy between them, contrary [to] his faith, began to deny; but Robert, impatient, stabbed him in the breast, with his cousin, Sir Robert Comyn, whom James Lindsay, and Roger Kilpatrick, did quickly despatch.
This same year, the 7th of September, Sir William Wallace, sometime Governor of Scotland, was fraudulently, not suspecting any guile, betrayed and taken by Sir John [de] Menteith at Glasgow, and delivered to the cruel and inhuman tyrant of England, King Edward I. by whom he was carried to London, and there executed and dismembered most inhumanly, and that for the defense of his own native country.
17 thoughts on “Six Protectors or Governors, After King Alexander III.’s Death, Updated, pp.77-88.”