“Wh… What happened to Wallace?” Matthew asked timidly; “I heard that the Scots reclaimed Stirling Castle…”
His Uncle Scotland would go on and on about the man, the hero to the Scottish people, yet Arthur didn’t go on about the man, he didn’t really say much in the negative, maybe he respected him?
“After that Wallace’s defeat, well, he had been given the title as the Guardian of Scotland in favour for Robert the Bruce. We didn’t stop trying, but the Scots returned to small fights,” He stopped and sipped his tea, pondering; “Although, I had heard rumours that Wallace used to call himself the King of Scotland,”
“I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but in any case, the battle lost in Falkirk was a deciding factor, he hated it when Bruce made his peace with Edward. He felt it was demeaning to the people of Scotland. Perhaps he was right, or maybe Bruce wanted Edward to gain confidence in him again,”
“How was he captured? Were you there?” Matthew questioned, feeling bolder as time went on, the more he learned the more he needed the extra information.
Arthur became silent for a moment and then spoke, not answering the Canadian’s question just yet; “I shall tell you this, as I am sure Scotland told you already. Wallace went to the King of France, Phillip IV, to plead for assistance in getting Scottish independence, to which the French King did, sending a letter to his envoy in Rome demanding that they assist the Scots and Wallace. From what I heard, Wallace enjoyed the court life in France, but after a few years he was asked to return to Scotland. Of course, Edward managed to have his messenger’s sent to France, to open up negotiations for marriage of his eldest son,” Arthur looked at Matthew, who was wide eyed; “It was the done thing, for a long time. Kings would negotiate marriages for their children, one that would prosper both countries. When the Scots learned that the French King had agreed that his daughter would marry Edward’s son, it broke the alliance that Scotland and France had,”
“Uncle Scotland told me about France and the letter to Rome. I didn’t know about the marriage though,”
Arthur smiled; “Things changed by the time we found you and your brother,” and continued on.
Our men had heard that Wallace would be traveling back, the only way he could get to Scotland would be crossing through England and they were not going to let him go there easily.
Although he got away that time, we continued to follow him and many more small fights happened.
Of course no man can avoid capture forever, not even a man such as Wallace.
“I have a loyal subject of my own in Scotland,” Edward told me and I looked confused; “John de Menteith, he has sent word that he will capture Wallace for me, all he needs are some of my soldiers to assist him,”
“Do you believe him my King?” I asked, unsure if it was wise to trust a Scot.
“Hmmm.” He smiled; “I do, the penalty that the Bruce received should be warning enough to those Lords who betray us. I want you to watch his capture,”
I did as I was told, with twenty soldiers with me; we rode to Robroyston, where Wallace was tricked. He thought he was going to meet my brother and instead he came face to face with me.
The look on his face was sheer shock. Granted I don’t look exactly like my brother, but given that I had a cape covering me, he couldn’t tell until he saw my face. He was shocked, but that gave way to anger.
“Ye’r a bastard!” Wallace yelled; “Yer brither will deal wit ye! Ya see if he don’t!”
I knew that he knew what I was; it pained me to hear such hatred following from this man, one who avoided capture for so long. However I suppose it couldn’t be helped.
I rode with de Menteith, to spread the word in the English towns and counties, particularly the borders, that Wallace had been captured.
I persuaded de Menteith to go back so that he could have the honour of showing the King what he had accomplished and I rode ahead to spread more of the news to the other villagers, towns and counties until I reached London.
I informed the guards at the palace and they were ready and waiting for the arrival of the prisoner. I walked towards my Kings chamber’s, nodding to all those I passed, bowing to the Prince who just nodded as he briskly walked past with one of his favourites. I tried not to bristle with rage, but it was hard, very hard. However, I had important news to tell the King.
I walked into Edward’s chamber and bowed, seeing the King look so frail on his seat I had momentarily forgotten what I was to say.
“Lord Kirkland, I trust all went well?”
I blinked, remembering; “Ah, yes my King. Wallace is on his way, I have our soldier’s to escort him to Westminster Hall, and we’ll have him tried for treason…”
“I have added my request before you arrived with you news as well,” He said with a smile, extremely happy with the outcome, he’d wanted to deal with these Scots for so long, they had been a nuisance to him, more so than the Welsh.
“Really, what was it that you requested?”
“Oh, that he be crowned with a garland of oak,”
We both laughed, as I said, the rumours had spread that Wallace claimed he was King, now he would be, of the outlaws.
I sneaked into one of the rooms next to the hall where the trail would take place, when the charges were stated and the judge asked how Wallace would pleaded, this was what the man said;
“I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject,”
I held my breath; he had just asserted that John Balliol, the absent Scottish King who was in the Tower was officially his king.
The verdict was obvious, the prisoner was returned to his quarter’s until the sentence was carried out; which was a week later.
I had my brother write to me, threats, curses, once an assassin, but I had beaten my brother in a battle with my King and I shall be honest why I say I still felt elated and proud – it’s a feeling that wouldn’t last, of all the good Edward did… Well, that is another story.
I suppose I could tell you about Wallace’s execution, but I find it rather grisly. The movie didn’t even give a true glimpse into what actually happened, nor did the crowds of people who turned up to watch cry out for ‘mercy’ for the man, this was there entertainment.
However, the head of Wallace, now covered in tar, was placed on London bridge.
Matthew looked thoughtful; “You did say it wasn’t like the movie,”
“Yes, but to hear about how someone was executed, it’s a bit…” Arthur trailed off; “But Wallace was now dead and Edward thought that was it, no more rebellions,”
“It was Robert the Bruce,”
“Exactly, as I have said, he had murdered his rival…”
“Well, Bruce had a lot of pride, so it made it difficult for him to work with other’s who could also achieve the crown, to kill them would make it easier,”
Wallace was gone and Edward was prepared to govern the Scots, so the countries longing to be independent would be a thing of the past.
We learned over a year later that Bruce had murdered John Comyn, his co-regent, when they were due to meet at Greyfriars Church to discuss their rival claims to the throne, (Also to speak of how to go against Edward, but I only learned of that later as well) however, there was an argument and without thinking Bruce had stabbed Comyn to death.
There was a risk of Bruce being excommunicated, that is to say that Rome and the Pope himself would excommunicate Bruce, meaning that he would no long be entitled to the crown of Scotland and if he was to die he could not be buried on sacred ground and be given the last rites. On impulse he gathered up supporters and within a few weeks he crowned himself the King of Scotland.
He then began a campaign for Scottish independence which took us all by surprise.
“Ah, so it has happened again,” Edward said, sipping his wine as he sat by the fire, a good many furs covered him and I felt myself beginning to sweat just by looking at him.
“I am sorry to say it has,”
“No matter, we were taken by surprise, but Bruce shall learn the same way Wallace did,” Edward coughed and spluttered, he took time to regain his breath before continuing; “I have de Valence and Percy to lead the army with my son to lead the main,”
My heart sank, not because I would not watch the battle, but for the first time my King was declining to be part of the battle.
“Are you sure…?”
“Tch, I know the Earl of Pembroke shall not fail me,”
I nodded in agreement.
They were successful at first, de Valence defeated Bruce at the Battle of Methyen and he was forced into hiding. Edward sent word that any of Bruce’s allies will be dealt with severe punishment; the King regarded this as a war between two nations but as a suppression of a rebellion of disloyal subjects.
My brother was happy to write to me, to say that the brutality that my King was having against the Scots was creating the opposite effect, giving more support to Bruce.
Although not before Bruce had been chased further up to the highlands of Scotland by Comyn’s own Uncle, MacDougal of Loarn who actually forced Bruce out of Scotland for a while and into the Isle of Rathlin off the Irish coast.
A few months into the New Year of 1307, Bruce was back and rallied his supporters to take us on in Carrick, where our army had garrisoned his castle. He waited for more supplies and men; before he moved on to fight de Valence at Loudoun Hill, our army was defeated there as well.
“Let us go and face this traitors upstart,” My King slowly began to walk to the courtyard, determined to face this foe and win.
As pleased as I was to see him take some interest in the battle, my King, Edward, was not well, his own physician tried to stop him from doing too much.
“My King, please, I beg you, you need to stop, your body is not as young as it used to be, you need rest, plenty of rest,”
The man was almost on his knees and I was thankful that he didn’t suggest for Edward to pass the crown onto his son, for that would have been a blow to his pride.
“I will see to it that these Scots learn their place,” The King said and moved quickly, although he diverted slightly.
The physician sighed; “My Lord Kirkland, please, I…”
I shook my head at the man; “I wish as much, if not more, than you do that the King would stop in this, but he has a lot of pride and to do so would surly kill him as going,”
“Aye, you are right,” The man looked so down heartened though; no words could have brought him comfort.
So we headed north, although I kept a close eye on him, I couldn’t help him from his affliction, if anything he appeared to be getting worse.
We halted and camped at Burgh by Sands which was south of the Scottish border, as we all were preparing for sleep, I went to get more wine for the King, granted any servant could have done it, but Edward trusted me, I was unlikely to poison him, although I think he just wanted company from someone who didn’t want anything from him, aside from being a good ruler.
“You know England, I am rather tired,” He stated and I moved to go; “No, no. I am just tired, do you never feel that? Or being as you are, are you unable to feel such things?”
“My King I…” I paused for a moment; “I am still young, I don’t think I will feel what you are for a while yet,”
He smiled and nodded, taking his cup and drinking; “Good, good. I have wished that I want carried out…”
“Your wishes are always carried out,” I pointed out and he shook his hand at me.
“No, no, not those types, I mean when I die. I went on the Crusades when I was young, then I learned that I was King and returned here, I wished I went back. When I go, my heart shall be carried to the Holy Land, with an army to fight those infidels. Now, gather the Lords… I have something to charge them with,”
I nodded and gathered de Valence and Clifford.
“The King wishes to speak to you both,” I informed them, they looked weary but curious.
“Could it not wait until the morn?” Clifford asked and I shook my head.
“We know the King is ill, you should learn his wishes now… In case,” I didn’t need to finish that sentence, there was a chance the King would die.
We returned to the King and he looked at the two men; “I am charging you with the well-being of my son Edward. Make sure that Gaveston is not allowed to come back, that man will damage this country and everything I have created will be in ruins,”
Gaveston was young Edward’s favourite, although he had others, but Gaveston was at the top of the pile. I hated that man more than anyone, he felt he was above all of us, apart from the King, but it boiled my blood every time I saw him.
With this said we bade each other good night.
The next day Edward had to be lifted up by his servant’s to eat but he had become so weak that he died in their arms.
The battle against Robert the Bruce was delayed, the army took Edward’s body to be brought south and after a long vigil he was entombed in Westminster Abbey.
“Wow…” Matthew said and Arthur nodded; “So… Was his wishes obeyed?”
“No,” The Brit looked sad as he spoke, he looked at his empty tea cup and then back to the Canadian; “No, no one would believe me when I told them the King’s wish, although de Valerie and Clifford were ready to believe me they decided not to take my side, so as they could keep their standing. As for Gaveston? That wish was also ignored; the man was recalled from exile after a certain amount of mourning had passed. Edward II abandoned the Scottish campaign a few months later to be reunited with Gaveston. I never told him who I truly was; not really, I knew that he would just abuse his powers and not think of the people. Instead I integrated myself with his son, hoping that the next generation would be a far greater ruler,”
“How did you know?” Matthew then added; “That Edward the second would be a bad King?”
“Unwise King, Edward wasn’t a bad King, but he was foolish, he allowed his personal favourites to take over the high-ranking positions that people of their rank should not do,” Arthur poured more tea and looked at the kitchen clock; “We’ve been talking for most of the day,”
“I’ve learned so much from this, thank you,”
Arthur just looked at his former charge astonished, he had no idea how to take that; “Well, that’s good, I think we should head out for dinner, don’t you?” He stood and the younger nation nodded.
“That would be nice,”
“Well, come along, I know a place that’s only five minutes away,”
Matthew nodded, he liked that for the moment, and Arthur was remembering him and not only that enjoying his company. It was a special moment; in fact it had been a special couple of days.
He had killed two birds with one stone, he learned about some English history and he also got quality time with the man who had partially raised him.
Now Matthew wondered to himself; Which King or Queen to ask about next time?