John Barbour

(c.1320 – 13 March 1395 / Aberdeenshire or Galloway, Scotland)

The Brus Book 18


[Edward Bruce marches toward Dundalk; he debates whether to fight]

Bot he that rest anoyit ay
And wald in travaill be alway,
A day forouth thar aryving
That war send till him fra the king,
5 He tuk his way southwart to far
Magre thaim all that with him war,
For he had nocht than in that land
Of all men I trow twa thousand,
Outane the kingis off Irchery
10 That in gret routis raid him by.
Towart Dundalk he tuk the way,
And quhen Richard of Clar hard say
That he come with sa few menye
All that he mycht assemblit he
15 Off all Irland off armyt men,
Sua that he had thar with him then
Off trappyt hors twenty thousand
But thai that war on fute gangand,
And held furth northward on his way.
20 And quhen Schyr Edward has hard say
That cummyn ner till him wes he
He send discouriouris him to se,
The Soullis and the Stewart war thai
And Schyr Philip the Mowbray,
25 And quhen thai sene had thar cummyng
Thai went agayne to tell tithing,
And said weill thai war mony men.
In hy Schyr Edward answerd then
And said that he suld fecht that day
30 Thoucht tribill and quatribill war thai.
Schyr Jhone Stewart said, 'Sekyrly
I reid nocht ye fecht on sic hy,
Men sayis my brother is cummand
With fyften thousand men ner-hand,
35 And war thai knyt with you ye mycht
The traistlyer abid to fycht.'
Schyr Edward lukyt all angrely
And till the Soullis said in hy,
'Quhat sayis thou?' 'Schyr,' he said, 'Perfay
40 As my falow has said I say.'
And than to Schyr Philip said he.
'Schyr,' said he, 'sa our Lord me se
Me think na foly for to bid
Your men that spedis thaim to rid,
45 For we ar few, our fayis ar fele,
God may rycht weill our werdis dele,
Bot it war wondre that our mycht
Suld our-cum sa fele in fycht.'
Than with gret ire 'Allace,' said he,
50 I wend never till her that of the.
Now help quha will for sekyrly
This day but mar baid fecht will I,
Sall na man say quhill I may drey
That strenth of men sall ger me fley.
55 God scheld that ony suld us blam
Gif we defend our noble nam.'
'Now be it swagat than,' quod thai,
'We sall tak that God will purvai.'

[The Irish kings promise to remain and watch the fight]

And quhen the kingis of Irchery
60 Herd say and wyst sekyrly
That thar king with sa quhone wald fycht
Agane folk of sa mekill mycht
Thai come till him in full gret hy
And consaillyt him full tenderly
65 For till abid his men, and thai
Suld hald thar fayis all that day
Doand, and on the morn alsua
With thar ronnyngis that thai suld ma.
Bot thar mycht na consail availe,
70 He wald algat hav bataile.
And quhen thai saw he wes sa thra
To fycht, thai said, 'Ye ma well ga
To fycht with yone gret cumpany,
Bot we acquyt us uterly
75 That nane of us will stand to fycht.
Assuris nocht tharfor in our mycht,
For our maner is of this land
To folow and fecht fleand
And nocht to stand in plane melle
80 Quhill the ta part discomfyt be.'
He said, 'Sen that your custum is
Ik ask at you no mar bot this,
That is that ye and your menye
Wald all togidder arayit be
85 And stand on fer but departing
And se our fycht and the ending.'
Thai said weill that thai suld do sua,
And syne towart thar men gan thai ga
That war weill twenty thousand ner.

[The defeat and death of Edward Bruce; Philip Mowbray's fate]

90 Edward with thaim that with him wer
That war nocht fully twa thousand
Arayit thaim stalwartly to stand
Agayne fourty thousand and ma.
Schyr Edward that day wald nocht ta
95 His cot-armour, bot Gib Harper
That men held as withoutyn per
Off his estate, had on that day
All hale Schyr Edwardis aray.
The fycht abad thai on this wis,
100 And in gret hy thar ennymys
Come till assemble all redy
And thai met thaim hardely.
Bot thai sa few war, south to say,
That ruschyt with thar fayis war thai,
105 And thai that pressyt mast to stand
War slane doun, and the remanand
Fled till the Irche to succour.
Schyr Edward that had sic valour
Wes dede and Jhone Stewart alsua
110 And Jhone the Soullis als with tha
And other als off thar cumpany.
Thai war vancussyt sa suddanly
That few intill the place war slane,
For the lave has thar wayis tane
115 Till the Irsche kingis that war thar
And in hale bataill howand wer.
Jhone Thomas-sone that wes leder
Off thaim of Carrik that thar wer
Quhen he saw the discumfiting
120 Withdrew him till ane Irsch king
That off his aquentance had he,
And he resavit him in leawte.
And quhen Jhone cummyn wes to that king
He saw be led fra the fechting
125 Schyr Philyp the Mowbray the wicht
That had bene dosnyt into the fycht,
And with armys led wes he
With twa men apon a causé
That wes betwix thaim and the toun
130 And strekyt lang in a randown.
Towart the toun thai held thar way,
And quhen in myd-cause war thai
Schyr Philip of his desynes
Ourcome, and persavit he wes
135 Tane and led suagat with twa.
The tane he swappyt sone him fra
And syne the tother in gret hy,
And drew the swerd deliverly
And till the fycht his wayis tays
140 Endlang the cause that than was
Fillyt intill gret foysoun
Off men that than went till the toun,
And he that met thaim agayn gan ma
Sic payment quhar he gan ga
145 That weile a hundre men gert he
Leve maugre tharis the cause.
As Jhone Thomas-sone said suthly
That saw his deid all halily
Towart the bataill evyn he yeid.

[The body of Edward Bruce]

150 Jhone Thomas-sone that tuk gud heid
That thai war vencussyt all planly
Cryit on him in full gret hy
And said, 'Cum her for thar is nane
On lyve for thai ar dede ilkane.'
155 Than stud he still a quhill and saw
That thai war all doune of daw,
Syne went towart him saraly.
This Jhone wrocht syne sa wittely
That all that thidder fled than wer
160 Thocht that thai lossyt of thar ger
Come till Cragfergus hale and fer.
And thai that at the fechting wer
Socht Schyr Edward to get his heid
Amang the folk that thar wes dede
165 And fand Gib Harper in his ger,
And for sa gud hys armys wer
Thai strak hys hed of and syn it
Thai have gert salt intill a kyt
And send it intill Ingland
170 Till the King Edward in presand.
Thai wend Schyr Edwardis it had bene,
Bot for the armyng that wes schene
Thai of the heid dissavyt wer
All thocht Schyr Edward deyt ther.

[A verdict on Edward Bruce; the belated reinforcements]

175 On this wis war thai noble men
For wilfulnes all lesyt then,
And that wes syne and gret pite
For had thar outrageous bounte
Bene led with wyt and with mesur,
180 Bot gif the mar mysaventur
Be fallyn thaim, it suld rycht hard thing
Be to lede thaim till outraying,
Bot gret outrageous surquedry
Gert thaim all deir thar worschip by.
185 And thai that fled fra the melle
Sped thaim in hy towart the se
And to Cragfergus cummyn ar thai,
And thai that war into the way
To Schyr Edward send fra the king
190 Quhen thai hard the discumfiting
To Cragfergus thai went agayne.
And that wes nocht foroutyn payn,
For thai war mony tyme that day
Assailyeit with Irschery, bot thai
195 Ay held togidder sarraly
And defendyt sa wittely
That thai eschapyt oft throu mycht
And mony tyme alsua throu slycht,
For oft of tharis to thaim gaff thai
200 To lat thaim scaithles pas thar way,
And till Cragfergus come thai sua
That batis and schyppis gan thai ta
And saylyt till Scotland in hy
And thar aryvyt all saufly.
205 Quhen thai of Scotland had wittering
Off Schyr Edwardis vencussing
Thai menyt him full tenderly
Our all the land commounaly,
And thai that with him slayn war thar
210 Full tenderly als menyt war.

[Edward Bruce's head; Edward II plans to invade Scotland]

Edward the Bruys as I said her
Wes discumfyt on this maner
And quhen the feld wes clengit clene
Sua that na resistens wes sene
215 The wardane than Schyr Richard of Clar
And all the folk that with him war
Towart Dundalk has tane the way
Sua that rycht na debat maid thai
At that tym with the Irschery,
220 Bot to the toun thai held in hy,
And syne had send furth to the king
That had Ingland in governyng
Gib Harperis heid in a kyt.
Jhone Maupas till the king had it
225 And he ressavyt it in daynte,
Rycht blyth off that present wes he
For he wes glaid that he wes sua
Deliveryt off a felloun fa.
In hart tharoff he tuk sic prid
230 That he tuk purpos for to rid
With a gret ost in Scotland
For to veng him with stalwart hand
Off tray of travaill and of tene
That done tharin till him had bene,
235 And a rycht gret ost gaderit he
And gert his schippis be the se
Cum with gret foysoun of vittaill,
For at that tyme he wald him taile
To dystroy up sa clene the land
240 That nane suld leve tharin levand,
And with his folk in gret aray
Towart Scotland he tuk the way.

[King Robert withdraws; the English starve at Edinburgh]

And quhen King Robert wist that he
Come on him with sic a mengne
245 He gaderyt his men bath fer and ner
Quhill sa fele till him cummyn wer,
And war als for to cum him to,
That him thocht he rycht weill suld do.
He gert withdraw all the catell
250 Off Lowthiane everilkdeill,
And till strenthis gert thaim be send
And ordanyt men thaim to defend,
And with his ost all still he lay
At Culros, for he wald assay
255 To gert hys fayis throu fasting
Be feblyst and throu lang walking,
And fra he feblist had thar mycht
Assembill than with thaim to fycht.
He thocht to wyrk apon this wis,
260 And Inglismen with gret maistrys
Come with thar ost in Lowthian
And sone till Edynburgh ar gan,
And thar abaid thai dayis thre.
Thar schippys that war on the se
265 Had the wynd contrar to thaim ay
Sua that apon na maner thai
Had power to the Fyrth to bring
Thar vittailis to releve the king,
And thai of the ost that faillyt met
270 Quhen thai saw that thai mycht nocht get
Thar vittaillis till thaim be the se
Thai send furth rycht a gret menye
For to forray all Lowthiane,
Bot cataill haf thai fundyn nane
275 Outakyn a bule that wes haltand
That in Tranentis corne thai fand.
That brocht thai till thar ost agayne,
And quhen the erle of Warayne
Saw that bule anerly cum swa
280 He askyt giff thai gat na ma,
And thai haff said all till him nay.
Than said he, 'Certis I dar say
This is the derrest best that I
Saw ever yeit, for sekyrly
285 It cost a thousand pound and mar.'
And quhen the king and thai that war
Off his consaill saw thai mycht get
Na cattell till thar ost till ete
That than of fasting had gret payn
290 Till Ingland turnyt thai agayn.

[The retreating English advance party attacked by Douglas at Melrose]

At Melros schup thai for to ly
And send befor a cumpany
Thre hunder ner of armyt men.
Bot the lord Douglas that wes then
295 Besyd intill the Forest ner
Wyst of thar come and quhat thai wer,
And with thaim of his cumpany
Into Melros all prevely
He howyt in a buschement,
300 And a rycht sturdy frer he sent
Without the yate thar come to se,
And bad him hald him all preve
Quhill that he saw thaim cummand all
Rycht to the coynye thar of the wall,
305 And than cry hey, 'Douglas! Douglas!'
The frer than furth his wayis tais
That wes all stout derff and hardy,
Hys mekill hud helyt haly
The armur that he on him had,
310 Apon a stalwart hors he rad
And in his hand he had a sper,
And abaid apon that maner
Quhill that he saw thaim cummand ner,
And quhen the formest passyt wer
315 The coynye he criyt 'Douglas! Douglas!'
Than till thaim all a cours he mas
And bar ane doun deliverly,
And Douglas and his cumpany
Ischyt apon thaim with a schout,
320 And quhen thai saw sa gret a rout
Cum apon thaim sa suddanly
Thai war abaysyt gretumly
And gaf the bak but mar abaid.
The Scottis men amang thaim raid
325 And slew all that thai mycht our-ta,
A gret martyrdome thar gan thai ma,
And thai that eschapyt unslayne
Ar till thar gret ost went agayne
And tauld thaim quhatkyn welcummyng
330 Douglas thaim maid at thar meting
That convoyit thaim agayn rudly
And warnyt planly herbery.

[King Robert invades England; the English army awaits him at Byland]

The king of Ingland and his men
That saw thar herbriouris then
335 Cum rebutyt on that maner
Anoyit in thar hart thai wer,
And thocht that it war gret foly
Intill the wod to tak herbery,
Tharfor by Dryburgh in the playn
340 Thai herbryit thaim and syne again
Ar went till Ingland thar way.
And quhen the King Robert hard say
That thai war turnyt hame agayn
And how thar herbriouris war slayn,
345 In hy his ost assemblit he
And went south our the Scottis se
And till Ingland his wayis tais.
Quhen his ost assemblyt ways
Auchty thousand he wes and ma
350 And aucht batallis he maid of tha,
In ilk bataill war ten thousand,
Syne went he furth till Ingland
And intill hale rout folowit sa fast
The Inglis king, quhill at the last
355 He come approchand to Biland
Quhar at that tyme thar wes lyand
The king of Ingland with his men.
King Robert that had witteryng then
That he lay thar with mekill mycht
360 Tranountyt sua on him a nycht
That be the morn that it wes day
Cummyn in a plane feld war thai
Fra Biland bot a litill space,
Bot betwix thaim and it thar was
365 A craggy bra strekyt weill lang
And a gret peth up for to gang,
Other wayis mycht thai nocht away
To pas to Bilandis abbay
Bot gif thai passyt fer about.
370 And quhen the mekill Inglis rout
Hard that the King Robert wes sa ner,
The mast part of thaim that thar wer
Went to the peth and tuk the bra,
Thai thocht thar defens to ma,
375 Thar baneris thar thai gert display
And thar bataillis on braid aray,
And thocht weill to defend the pas.
Quhen the King Robert persavit was
That thai thocht thar thaim to defend
380 Efter his consaill has he send
And askyt quhat wes best to do.
The lord Douglas answeryt thar-to
And said, 'Schyr, I will underta
That in schort tyme I sall do sa
385 That I sall wyn yon pas planly,
Or than ger all yon cumpany
Cum doun to you her to this plane.'
The king said than till him agayn,
'Do than, quhar mychty God the speid.'

[Douglas and Moray attack uphill at Byland; defence by two English knights]

390 Than he furth on his wayis yeid,
And of the ost the mast hardy
Put thaim intill his cumpany
And held thar way towart the pas.
The gud erle of Murreff Thomas
395 Left his bataill and in gret hy
Bot with four men of his cumpany
Come till the lordis rout of Douglas
And or he entryt in the pas
Befor thaim all the pas tuk he
400 For he wald that men suld him se.
And quhen Schyr James off Douglas
Saw that he suagat cummyn was
He prisyt him tharoff gretly
And welcummyt him hamlyly,
405 And syne the pas thai samyn ta.
Quhen Inglis men saw thaim do sua
Thai lychtyt and agayn thaim yeid
Twa knychtis rycht douchty of deid,
Thomas Ouchtre ane had to name
410 The tother Schyr Rauf of Cobhame,
Come doun befor all thar menye,
Thai war bath full of gret bounte
And met thar fayis manlely,
Bot thai war pressyt rycht gretumly.
415 Thar mycht men se rycht weill assaile
And men defend with stout bataill
And arowes fley in gret foysoun
And thai that owe war tumbill doun
Stanys apon thaim fra the hycht,
420 Bot thai that set bath will and mycht
To wyn the peth thaim pressyt sua
That Schyr Rauff of Cobhame gan ta
The way up till hys hors in hy,
And left Schyr Thomas manlily
425 Defendand with gret mycht the pas
Quhill that he sua supprisit was
That he wes tane throu hard fechting.
And tharfor syne in his ending
He wes renownyt for best of hand
430 Off a knycht off all Ingland,
For this ilk Schyr Rauf of Cobhame
Intill all Ingland he had name
For the best knycht of all that land,
And for Schyr Thomas dwelt fechtand
435 Quhar Schyr Rauff as befor said we
Withdrew him, prisit our him was he.

[The king's men take the heights, take prisoners and defeat the English]

Thus war thai fechtand in the pas,
And quhen the King Robert that was
Wys in his deid and averty
440 Saw his men sa rycht douchtely
The peth apon thar fayis ta
And saw his fayis defend thaim sa,
Than gert he all the Irschery
That war intill his cumpany
445 Off Arghile and the Ilis alsua
Speid thaim in gret hy to the bra,
And bad thaim leif the peth haly
And clym up in the craggis hy
And speid thaim fast the hycht to ta.
450 Than mycht men se thaim stoutly ga
And clymb all-gait up to the hycht
And leve nocht for thar fayios mycht,
Magre thar fayis thai bar thaim sua
That thai ar gottyn aboun the bra.
455 Than mycht men se thaim fecht felly
And rusch thar fayis sturdely,
And thai that till the pas war gane
Magre thar fayis the hycht has tane.
Than laid thai on with all thar mycht,
460 Thar mycht men se men felly fycht.
Thar wes a peralous bargane,
For a knycht Schyr Jhone the Bretane
That lychtyt wes aboune the bra
And his men gret defens gan ma,
465 And Scottismen sua gan assaill
And gave thaim sa felloun bataill
That thai war set in sic affray
That thai that mycht fley fled away,
Schyr Jhone the Bretane thar wes tane
470 And rycht fele off his folk war slane.
Off Fraunce thar tane wes knychtis twa,
The lord the Sule wes ane of tha,
The tother wes the merschell Bretayn
That wes a wele gret lord at hame,
475 The lave sum ded war and sum tane
And the remanand fled ilkane.
And quhen the king of Ingland
That yeit at Biland wes liand
Saw his men discumfyt planely
480 He tuk his way in full gret hy
And furthwart fled with all his mycht,
Scottismen chassyt fast, Ik hycht,
And in the chas has mony tane,
The king quitly away is gane
485 And the mast part of his menye.

[Walter Stewart attacks up to York; John of Brittany a prisoner]

Stewart Walter that gret bounte
Set ay on hey chevalry
With fyve hunder in cumpany
Till Yorkis yettis the chas gan ma
490 And thar sum of thar men gan sla
And abade thar quhill ner the nycht
To se giff ony wald ische to fycht,
And quhen he saw nane wald cum out
He turnyt agane with all his rout
495 And till his ost he went in hy
That tane had than thar herbery
Intill the abbay off Biland
And Ryfuowis that was by ner-hand.
Thai delt amang thaim that war ther
500 The king off Inglandis ger
That he had levyt in Biland,
All gert thai lep out our thar hand,
And maid thaim all glaid and mery.
And quhen the king had tane herbery
505 Thai brocht till him the prisoneris
All unarmyt as it afferis,
And quhen he saw Jhone of Bretangne
He had at him rycht gret engaigne,
For he wes wont to spek hychtly
510 At hame and our dispitusly,
And bad have him away in hy
And luk he kepyt war straitly,
And said war it nocht that he war
Sic a catyve he suld by sar
515 Hys wordys that war sua angry,
And he humbly criyt him mercy.
Thai led him furth foroutyn mar
And kepyt him wele quhill thai war
Cummyn hame till thar awne countre,
520 Lang eftre syne ransonyt wes he
For twenty thousand pund to pay
As Ik haff hard syndry men say.

[French knights released without ransom;
the expedition returns to Scotland]

Quhen that the king this spek had maid
The Frankys knychtis men takyn had
525 War brocht rycht thar befor the king,
And he maid thaim fayr welcummyng
And said, 'I wate rycht weill that ye
For your gret worschip and bounte
Come for to se the fechting her.
530 For sen ye in the countre wer
Your strenth your worschyp and your mycht
Wald nocht lat you eschew the fycht,
And sen that caus you led thartill
And nother wreyth na ivill will
535 As frendis ye sall resavyt be,
Quhar all tyme welcum her be ye.'
Thai knelyt and thankyt him gretly,
And he gert tret thaim curtasly
And lang quhill with thaim had he
540 And did thaim honour and bounte,
And quhen thai yarnyt to thar land
To the king of Fraunce in presand
He send thaim quit but ransoun fre
And gret gyftis to thaim gaff he.
545 His frendis thusgat curtasly
He couth ressave and hamely,
And his fayis stoutly stonay.
At Biland all that nycht he lay,
For thar victour all blyth thai war,
550 And on the morn foroutyn mar
Thai haff forthwart tane thar way.
Sa fer at that tyme travaillyt thai
Brynnand slayand and destroyand
Thar fayis with all thar mycht noyand
555 Quhill till the Wald cummyn war thai,
Syne northwart tuk hame thar way
And destroyit in thar repayr
The vale all planly off Beauewar.
And syne with presoneris and catell
560 Riches and mony fayr jowell
To Scotland tuk thai hame thar way
Bath blyth and glaid joyfull and gay,
And ilk man went to thar repayr
And lovyt God thaim fell sa fayr
565 That thai the king off Ingland
Throu worschip and throu strenth of hand
And throu thar lordis gret bounte
Discumfyt in his awne countre.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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