| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
EDWARD II. OF CAERNARVON—THE STORY OF KING ROBERT THE BRUCE AND BOHUN
 WHEN Edward, the first Prince of Wales, was young, he had a
French friend called Piers Gaveston. Piers was tall and
handsome and gay, but he was wicked. He led the prince into
all kinds of mischief until at last King Edward I. put his
son in prison for a time, and banished Piers from the
When Edward lay dying he begged his son never to bring Piers
back again. The Prince of Wales promised, but, as soon as his
father was dead, he broke his word and sent for Piers.
Edward II. made Piers Earl of Cornwall, and married him to a
great lady. Then leaving him to rule England the King
crossed to France to marry the beautiful Princess Isabella.
The English barons were very angry at again having a
foreigner to rule. They hated Piers, and Piers laughed at
and insulted them. He called them all sorts of names, such
as "the Jew," "the actor," "the black dog," and "the hog."
Piers made Edward II. do many wicked things. The King filled
the court with bad and foolish people like himself, sending
away the wise men who had helped Edward I. to rule.
At last the hatred of the barons grew so fierce that
forced Edward to send Piers away, and when after a time
Edward brought him back, they seized him and put him to
Edward was very angry with the barons for killing Piers, and
he was sad too, for he had really loved his friend. He was
too weak a king, however, to punish the barons, so he was
obliged to pretend that he forgave them. But he did not
become a better king, even after his favourite was dead.
Meanwhile the Scots were fighting against the English, and
driving them out of Scotland. A king, called Robert the
Bruce, was now upon the throne, and under him the Scots
fought so bravely that soon the English had lost all the
Scottish towns which they had, except Stirling. The castle
of Stirling was strong, and the English soldiers within it
brave. But the Scots were brave too, and determined, for
they were fighting for their freedom and their country. At
last the governor, feeling that he could hold out no longer,
promised to yield the castle on 24th June 1314 A.D., if
before then no help came to him.
When Edward II. heard that Stirling was in danger, he at
last roused himself. He gathered a great army of English,
Irish, Welsh, and French, barons and men of high degree,
with their servants and followers—a hundred thousand men
in all. Such a splendid army as now marched over the border
had never before been seen in Scotland.
As they passed through the country to Stirling, fear filled
the hearts of the women and children. They thought of their
husbands, and fathers and brothers who were gathered at
Stirling to meet this great army, and wept for them as lost.
The whole of Robert the Bruce's army numbered less
 than forty thousand men, and they were neither so well drilled
nor so well armed as the English. But King Robert was a
great soldier and a wise general. He knew that he could only
hope to defeat the English by using his brain as well as his
sword and battle-axe. Therefore he chose the position of his
army with great care. In front there lay marshes, through
which the English would have to ride in order to reach the
Scots, who were drawn up upon the dry plain beyond. Where
the ground was firm, Bruce made his men dig pits about three
feet deep. These pits were filled with twigs and branches of
gorse, and the turf was then laid over them again, so that
from a distance it seemed like a firm and level plain.
On one side of King Robert's position rose the steep castle
hill, and on the other flowed the little stream called the
Bannock. Only from the front could the English attack, and
the front was guarded by pits and marshes.
Not till the 23rd of June, the very day before the governor
had promised to give up the castle, did King Edward appear
and camp opposite the Scottish army.
When King Robert heard that the English were near he drew up
his army in battle array ready to fight, although he did not
expect to do so that day.
Randolph, Earl of Moray, the nephew of King Robert, was
given charge of a small body of horsemen, and told that he
must stop any of the English who might try to get into
Stirling. For it might have been very bad for the Scots had
the English been able to take a strong position there.
The Scottish leaders stood watching the advance of the
English, when King Robert's eye caught the gleam of armour
away to the east. Turning to his young nephew he said, "Ah,
Randolph, a rose has fallen from
 your crown." By this he
meant that Randolph had missed a chance of making himself
famous. For a party of English horsemen were quietly
stealing towards Stirling, and Randolph, who had been told
to prevent this, had not noticed.
Too ashamed to reply Randolph called to his men and dashed
upon the English. They turned and charged Randolph so
fiercely that Douglas, another of the Scottish leaders,
begged to be allowed to go to his help.
"No," replied King Robert, "let Randolph win back the honour
which he has lost, or die. I cannot risk the whole battle
because of a careless boy. Leave him."
So Douglas waited and watched. It seemed to him as if the
little company of Scotsmen were being swallowed up by the
Then Douglas could bear it no longer. "My Lord King, I pray
you, let me go," he said. "Randolph and his men are sore
pressed. I cannot stand idly by and see him die." And
scarcely waiting for permission Douglas rode off.
But, as he came near to Randolph, he saw that the English
were giving way. "Halt," he called to his men. "Randolph has
no need of our help. We will not take the honour from
him." And without striking a blow, he and his men turned and rode
back to the King.
Soon the English horsemen were seen flying from the field,
and Randolph, joyful and victorious, returned to his place.
He had recovered the rose which had fallen from his crown.
Meanwhile the rest of the English army was steadily
advancing. King Robert the Bruce, mounted upon a little
brown pony and wearing a gold crown upon his helmet, rode up
and down in front of his army, watching everything,
commanding and encouraging. His armour was light, and for a
weapon he carried only a battle-axe.
 Seeing King Robert so lightly armed, an English knight,
called Sir Henry de Bohun, thought he would earn a great
name for himself and win the battle at one blow. So setting
spurs to his horse he rushed upon the King at full speed.
As the full-armed knight came thundering along on his great
war-horse, King Robert, sitting firmly on his little pony,
waited calmly. When Bohun reached him, when the sharp point
of the spear almost touched his armour, Bruce suddenly made
his pony spring to one side. The knight flashed past him.
Quick as lightning Bruce turned, rose in his stirrups, and
lifting his battle-axe high in the air, brought it crashing
down upon the helmet of Bohun. Head and helmet were split,
and without a groan Bohun fell dead to the ground, while his
riderless horse galloped wildly away.
Bruce lifted his battle-axe high in the air, then brought it crashing down upon the helmet of Bohun.
Cheer upon cheer rose from the Scottish ranks and the nobles
crowded round their King, glad yet vexed with him. "My lord,
my lord, is it well thus to risk your life?" they said. "Had
you been killed, our cause were lost."
But the King paid no heed to them. "I have broken my good
axe," was all he said, "I have broken my good axe."
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