Chapter VI; Robert III., 1390-1406, 16 years, pp.46-52.

[History of Scotland Contents]

Wolf of Badenoch burns Elgin Cathedral,        1391 
Battle of Gasklune,                                              1392 
Battle of the Clans at Perth,                                1396 
First Scottish Dukes created,                             1398 
Henry IV. enters Scotland with an army,        1400 
Battle of Homildon Hill,                                     1402 
David, Duke of Rothesay, starved to death,    1402 
Prince James captured by the English,              1405 
Death of Robert III.,                                           1406

   1.  Robert II. was succeeded by his eldest son, John, but as the title “King John” was hateful to the people, as being associated with him who sold the national independence, it was resolved that he should assume the more popular name of Robert. He was accordingly crowned as Robert III. The nine years’ truce with England made his reign for a time peaceful. Therre were, however, family quarrels among the nobles, and feuds among the Celtic races of the north and the west. 

    2In the latter years of Robert II.’s reign the government had been largely intrusted to his sons, the Earls of Fife and Buchan. The latter, Alexander Stewart, was a monster of cruelty, who, by the people of the north over whom he exercised his tyranny, was called the “Wolf of Badenoch.” This tyrant in the second year of his brother’s reign, 1391, in revenge of a quarrel with the Bishop of Moray, profaned and plundered the cathedral of Elgin, which he afterwards set on fire.

    3.  The Wolf of Badenoch had scarcely retired with his plunder when his natural son, Duncan Stewart, passed the mountains which separate the counties of Aberdeen and Forfar, and began to harry the country and slaughter the inhabitants. Sir Walter Ogilvie, sheriff of Angus, with Sir Patrick Gray and Sir David Lindsay, of Glenesk, collected a small force and attacked the katerans, as they were called, at Gasklune, 1392, on the river Isla, but the Highlanders were victorious. In the fight Sir David Lindsay had pierced a Highlander through the body with his spear and pinned him to the ground, but the savage mountaineer, though in the agony of death, writhed himself up with the weapon in his body, struck Lindsay with his sword through stirrup and steel boot into the bone, after which he fell back dead. These excesses of a brother and nephew of Robert III. called for immediate redress, but the government was so weak that they passed unheeded. 

   4.  In 1396, two clans, called respectively the clan Kay and the clan Quhele, resolved or were induced to fight out their quarrel before the king and his nobles on the North Inch of Perth. There were thirty men on each side. Lists were staked off, and stands were erected for spectators, but when the sixty Highlanders entered the lists armed for mortal combat, the courage of one of the clan Quhele failed, and when the fight was about to begin he swam the Tay and fled. All was now at a stand, for, as the numbers were unequal, the fight could not go on. The king was about to break up the assembly, when an armourer of Perth called Henry Wynd, nicknamed the Gow Chrom or Crooked Smith, sprang within the barriers and offered to take the place of the deserter for a fee of half-a-mark and provision for life should he survive after having done his work well. His offer was accepted, and a dreadful combat ensued. The Highlanders, undefended by armour, fought with a ferocity which nothing could surpass, until only one of the clan Kay remained, while of the clan Quhele eleven, including the bold armourer, were still able to wield their weapons; whereupon the king threw down his gage and awarded the victory to the clan Quhele. 

A History of Scotland

   5.  The nobles, during the continuance of the truce, being deprived of the liberty to invade England, quarrelled with each other and did mischief to their unprotected neighbours. The king being infirm in body and weak in will, was unable to check the tyranny which the strong exercised over the weak. At length in 1398 the Estates in Parliament undertook to make law prevail, and to see justice done. Prince David, created Duke of Rothesay, was made Regent for three years with full powers to restrain and punish masterful misdoers, and especially to restrain “cursed men and heretics.” The Earl of Fife, the king’s brother, was created Duke of Albany, and was one of the council by whom the prince was to be guided in the administration of affairs. This is the first time that the title of duke appears in Scottish history. 

   6.  On the termination of the truce in 1399, the Scottish borderers made a raid on England and carried off much spoil. The English borderers retaliated by an invasion of the Lowlands. In the same year Henry IV. became King of England, and as he was a man of a different stamp from Richard II., the aspect of affairs became more threatening for Scotland. In the year 1400, Henry raised a great army and marched as far as Leith and made a demand for homage, to which the Duke of Rothesay replied by a defiance and a challenge to fight him with one, two, or three hundred on each side. Rothesay defended Edinburgh Castle against the English, and Albany commanded a large army on Calder Moor a few miles distant. The English army for want of supplies dwindled away, and Henry IV. had to return to England with the conviction that the conquest of Scotland was a vain dream. 

   7.  In 1402 the Scots invaded England under Douglas. He reached Durham as his father had done before the battle of Otterburn, and was returning to Scotland with a great amount of plunder when he was attacked by Hotspur and the Earl of March at Homildon Hill near Wooler. David, Duke of Rothesay, had been betrothed in 1399 to Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of March, but had married in 1400, Majory, the daughter of Earl Douglas. This caused March to cast off his allegiance to the Scottish king, and he was now engaged with Hotspur in fighting against the Scots. The Scots had a good position at Homildon Hill, but the English bowmen thinned their ranks, and as Douglas neglected to charge them with cavalry, they won the day. Douglas was taken prisoner, and a vast number of the Scots were slain. 

   8.  At the time of this battle the Scots were much agitated by the death of the Duke of Rothesay. His conduct, especially since his marriage, had been somewhat scandalous, and Albany persuaded the king that he required to be put under restraint. He was seized and carried to Falkland, where he was thrown into a dungeon, whence he never came out alive. It was given out that he died from an attack in the stomach, but public rumour loudly proclaimed that he had been starved to death. By his death Albany became governor. He was suspected of a desire to obtain the crown for himself on the death of his brother, but a son, James, and two daughters still stood in his way. 

   9.  In 1408 Earl Percy raised an insurrection against Henry IV. He released Douglas and the other captives taken at Homildon Hill. Douglas collected a force and marched into England to aid Percy. They were defeated at the battle of Shrewsbury, in which Hotspur was killed and Douglas taken prisoner. 

A History of Scotland0001

   10.  As Albany was suspected of having murdered the Duke of Rothesay and of having evil designs against the king’s only remaining son, James, a youth of fourteen, it was thought advisable to send the young prince to France to be out of harm’s way, and to be educated in all knightly and royal accomplishments. He set sail from the Forth in March, 1405, but an English was vessel captured him off Flamborough Head. The prince was carried to London to the court of Henry IV., where he remained a prisoner for eighteen years. Albany was suspected of having given the English the information which led to his capture. King Robert was much affected by the fate of his sons, and in little more than a year after the capture of Prince James, he died at Rothesay in 1406

   Summary. – Robert II,’s eldest son, John, was crowned with the title of Robert III. There was peace with England during the early part of his reign, but quarrels at home among the nobles became more frequent. The king’s brother, Alexander, called the “Wolf of Badenoch,” quarrelled with the Bishop of Moray and burned the cathedral of Elgin. His natural son, Duncan Stewart, crossed the mountains and defeated the Lowland forces at Gasklune (1392). In 1396, the clan Kay and the clan Quhele, with thirty men on each side, fought out a quarrel in presence of the king, on the North Inch of Perth. The feuds of the nobles, whom the king was too weak to restrain, led to much suffering among the people. The Parliament, in order to make law prevail, gave the king’s son David the title of Duke of Rothesay, and made him regent. The king’s brother, the Earl of Fife, was created Duke of Albany, and appointed one of the king’s advisers. In 1399, Henry IV. invaded Scotland, and led his army as far as Leith; but he had to return, convinced that the conquest of Scotland was impossible. In 1402, the Scots invaded England and penetrated as far as Durham, but they were defeated at Homildon Hill, where Douglas was taken prisoner by Percy. Albany had advised the king to put the Duke of Rothesay under restraint. The prince was confined to Falkland Palace, where he is said to have died of starvation. Albany was suspected of having procured Rothesay’s death, and it was thought that the life of Prince James was not safe from his designs. James was sent off to France, but was captured on his way thither by an English war-ship. This so affected the king that he died in 1406.

   Questions:- Why was John, the son of Robert II., crowned as Robert III.? What do you know of the “Wolf of Badenoch?” Give an account of the battle of Gasklune. Describe the combat between the clans on the North Inch of Perth. Who were the first Scottish dukes, and on what occasion did they get their titles? Give an account of the invasion of Scotland by Henry IV. in 1400. Give an account of the battle of Homildon Hill. How is the Duke of Rothesay said to have died? What can you tell about the battle of Shrewsbury? How did Prince James fall into the hands of the English? When did Robert III. die?
as-so’-ci-at-ed, mentally connected with.  fero’-ci-ty, fury. 
re-solved’, determined.  wield, to use with full sweep. 
as-sume, take.  gage, something thrown down as a signal or as a challenge. 
feuds, deadly quarrels between tribes or families.  her’-e-tics, persons opposed to the established or usual belief in religion. 
in-trust’-ed, given in charge.  coun’-cil, assembly of advisers. 
ex-ercised, practised.  ad-min-is-stra’-tion, management. 
tyr’-an-ny, oppression, cruelty.  re-tal’-i-at-ed, paid back like for like. 
pro-faned, polluted, treated irreverently.  as’-pect, look, appearance. 
ca-the’-dral, the principal church in a bishop’s district or diocese.  dwin’-dled, became gradually less or fewer. 
har’-ry, to ravage, to destroy.  con-vic’-tion, belief. 
sher’-iff, officer in a shire who puts the law in execution and administers justice.  be-trothed’, pledged, engaged to be married. 
writhed, twisted, wriggled.  al-le’-giance, duty as a subject. 
ex-cess’-es, acts beyond what is lawful.  scan’-da-lous, disgraceful. 
im-me’-diate, at once.  dun’-geon, close, dark prison. 
re-dress’, settling right.  ac-com’-plish-ments, graceful aquirements. 
re-spect’-ively, relating to each.  res-traint, deprivation of liberty. 
in-duced’, led on.  pro-claimed’, made known. 
spec-ta-tors, onlookers.  sus-pect’-ed, privately thought. 
bar’-ri-ers, fences.  ad-vis’-a-ble, proper. 
de-sert’-er, one who runs away without leave.  affect’-ed, moved, made sad. 
en-sued’, followed.   

Bad’enoch, a district in the south-east of Inverness-shire. 

El’gin, the county town of Morayshire, a cathedral city. 

Ang’us, ancient name of Forfarshire. 

Gasklune, near the river Isla in Forfarshire. 

Falk’land Palace, in Fifeshire. 

Shrews’bury, county town of Shropshire. 

Flam’borough Head, a promotory on the coast of Yorkshire. 

Rothe’say, a town in the island of Bute. 

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