Saturday, March 5, 2011

David II of Scotland Born

David II of Scotland was born this day, March 5th, in 1324.  He had big shoes to fill, following his father Robert the Bruce as king.  Inheriting the throne at the age of five (1329), the early years of his kingship were passed under guardianship.  There were many battles with the English during these years, and in 1333, David and Queen Joan of England were sent to France for safety.

Walter Scott devotes some time to this last male of the Bruce line in "Tales of a Grandfather", here picking up with David's return from France to a chaotic homeland: 'The nobles of Scotland, finding the affairs of the kingdom more prosperous, now came to the resolution of bringing back from France, where he had resided for safety, their young King, David II., and his consort, Queen Joanna. They arrived in 1341.

David II. was still a youth, neither did he possess at any period of life the wisdom and talents of his father, the great King Robert. The nobles of Scotland had become each a petty prince on his own estates; they made war on each other as they had done upon the English, and the poor King possessed no power of restraining them. A most melancholy instance of this discord took place, shortly after David's return from France.

I have told you how Sir Alexander Ramsay and the Knight of Liddesdale assisted each other in fighting against the English. They were great friends and companions in arms- But Ramsay having taken by storm the strong castle of Roxburgh, the King bestowed on him the office of Sheriff of that county, which was before enjoyed by the Knight of Liddesdale. As this was placing another person in his room, the Knight of Liddesdale altogether forgot his old friendship for Ramsay, and resolved to put him to death. He came suddenly upon him with a strong party of men, while he was administering justice at Hawick. Ramsay, having no suspicion of injury from the hand of his old comrade, and having few men with him, was easily overpowered, and, being wounded, was hurried away to the lonely Castle of the Hermitage, which stands in the middle of the morasses of Liddesdale. Here he was thrown into a dungeon, where he had no other sustenance than some grain which fell down from a granary above; and after lingering a little while in that dreadful condition, the brave Sir Alexander Ramsay died. This was in 1342. Nearly four hundred and fifty years afterwards, that is, about forty years ago, a mason, digging amongst the ruins of Hermitage Castle, broke into a dungeon, where lay a quantity of chaff, some human bones, and a bridle bit, which were supposed to mark the vault as the place of Ramsay's death. The bridle bit was given to grandpapa, who presented it to the present gallant Earl of Dalhousie, a brave soldier, like his ancestor Sir Alexander Ramsay, from whom he is lineally descended. The King was much displeased at the commission of so great a crime, on the person of so faithful a subject. He made some attempts to avenge the murder, but the Knight of Liddesdale was too powerful to be punished, and the King was obliged to receive him again into friendship and confidence. But God in his own good time revenged this cruel deed. About live years after the crime was committed, the Knight of Liddesdale was taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Neville's Cross, near Durham, and is suspected of having obtained his liberty by entering into a treacherous league with the English monarch. He had no time to carry his treason, however, into effect; for, shortly after his liberation, he was slain whilst hunting in Ettrick Forest, by his near relation and godson, William Lord Douglas. The place where he fell was called from his name, William-hope. It is a pity that the Knight of Liddesdale committed that great crime of murdering Ramsay, and entered into the treasonable treaty with the King of England. In other respects, he was ranked so high in public esteem, that he was called the Flower of Chivalry; and an old writer has said of him, " He was terrible in arms, modest and gentle in peace, the scourge of England, and the buckler and wall of Scotland; one whom good success never made presumptuous, and whom evil fortune never discouraged."...'

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