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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.
CHAPTER I. :
“ HISTORY," says Dr. Robertson, “which ought to record truth and teach wisdom, often sets out with retailing fiction and absurdities." Never was a sentence more true, nor a truism more necessary to be borne in mind. Relying upon uncertain legends, and the traditions of their bards, still more uncertain, the Scots reckon up a series of kings several ages before the birth of Christ; but the earliest accounts we can depend on, are obtained from Roman historians, and even these are very meagre. The Scots appear to have been descended from the Britons of the south, or from the Caledonians, both of Celtic origin, who being pressed forward by new colonies from Gaul, till they came to the western shores of Britain, there took shipping and passed over to Ireland, about a century before the Chris. tian era. In their new abode, it is said they obtained the name of Scuyts, or Wanderers; from which the modern term Scots is supposed to be derived. About A. D. 320, they returned to Britain, or at least a large colony of them, under the conduct of Fergus, and settled on the coast of Caledonia, whence they had formerly emigrated, and in a few years after we find them associated with the Picts in their expedition against the Roman province of South Britain. The modern inhabitants of Scotland are divided into Highlanders and Lowlanders; but the general name of both is Scots; and if the etymology of that name be correct, we may say, without sarcasm or reproach, that they still merit it as much as their ancestors; for there is scarcely a place in the world where they are not to be found.
There has been much dispute among antiquaries whether, in the first place, the Picts and Caledonians were the same race; and whether, secondly, they were of Gothic origin ; but, according to the best authorities, both these points have been very satisfactorily demonstrated. Tacitus describes the Caledonians as being of tall stature, light hair, and blue eyes, and he deduces their Gothic origin from their appearance; the Celts being, on the other hand, a small and dark people, with black eyes and hair.
In the year 81, the Romans, under Agricola, carried their arms into the northern parts of Britain, which they found possessed by the Caledonians, a fierce and warlike people; and having repulsed, rather than conquered them, they erected a strong wall, or line of forts, between the friths of Forth and Clyde, which served as the northern boundary of their empire. In 121, Adrian, on account of the difficulty of defending such a distant frontier, built a second wall much more southward, which extented from Newcastle to Carlisle. However, the country between the two walls was alternately under the dominion of the Romans and the Caledonians.
In the reign of Antoninus Pius, the pro-prætor, Lollius Urbius, drove the Scots far to the northward, and repaired the chain of forts built by Agricola, which lay between the Carron on the frith of Forth, and Dunglass on the Clyde. However, after the death of Antoninus, Commodus having recalled Calpurnius Agricola, an able commander, who kept the Scots in awe, a more dangerous war broke out than had ever been experienced by the Romans in that quarter. The Scots having passed the wall, put all the Romans they could meet with to the sword; but they were soon re. plused by Ulpius Marcellus, a general of consummate abilities, whom
Coinmodis sent into the island. In a short time the tyrant recalled thuis able commander. After his departure the Roman discipline suffered a total relaxation; the soldiery grew mutinous, and great disorder ensued; but these were all happily removed by the arrival of Clodius Albinus, who possessed great skill and experience in military affairs. His presence for some time restrained the Scots, but a civil war breaking out between him and Severus, Albinus crossed over to the continent with the greatest part of the Roman forces in Britain, and meeting his antagonist at Lyons, a dreadful battle ensued, in which Albinus was completely defeated.
The withdrawal of the Roman troops gave encouragement to the Scots to renew their insurrection, which they did with such success, that the emperor became apprehensive of losing the whole island, on which he determined to take the field against them in person. The army he collected on this occasion was far more numerous than any the Romans had ever sent into Britain, and it is asserted that in reconquering Scotland he lost no less than 50,000 men. On his return from the northern extremity of the island he built much stronger fortifications to secure the frontiers than had ever been done before, and which in some places coincided with Adrian's wall, but extended farther at each end. But, in the meantime, the Scots, provoked by the brutality of the emperor's son, Caracalla, whom he had left regent in his absence, again took up arms, on which Severus put himself at the head of his legions, with a determination, as he said, of extirpating the whole nation. But his death, which happened soon after, put a stop to the execution of a threat so direful, and we find that his son Caracalla ratified the peace with the Scots. At this period Scotland was governed by Donald I., who is said to have been its first Christian king. He died A. D. 216. Froin the reign of Donald I. to that of Eugene I., in 357, during which time eleven kings filled the throne, no important event occurs for which we have authentic history ; though we are told that for the great aid afforded by one of the Scottish kings, named Fincormachus, to the Britons, in their contest with the Romans, Westmoreland and Cumberland were ceded to Scotland. In the reign of Eugene I. we read that the Roman and Pictish forces were united against the Scots. The Picts were commanded by their king, named Hargust, and the Romans by Maximus, who murdered Valentinian III., and afterwards assumed the imperial purple. The allies defeated Eugene in the county of Galluway; but Maximus being obliged to return southward on account of an insurrection, the Picts were in their turn defeated by the Scots. In the following year, however, Maximus again marched against the Scots, and not only gained a complete victory over them, but the king, with the greater part of his nobles, were among the slain. So well, indeed, did the conquerors improve their victory, that their antagonists were at last totally driven out of the country. Some of them took refuge in the Æbudæ islands, and some in Scandinavia, but most of them fled to Ireland, whence they made frequent descents upon Scotland.
The Picts were at first greatly pleased with the victory they had gained over their warlike antagonists; but being commanded to adopt the laws of the Romans, and to choose no king who was not sent from Rome, they began to repent of their having contributed to the expulsion of the Scots; and in the year 421, when Autulphus, king of the Goths, sent over a body of exiled Scots to Britain, under Fergus, a descendant of the kings of Scotland, the Picts immediately joined them against the common enemy. It was at this period that the Romans were obliged, by the inundation of northern barbarians who poured in upon them, to recall their legions and abandon their conquests in Britain. The native Britons, therefore, so long accustomed to the dominion of these mighty conquerors, and now so incorporated with them, severely felt the perils of their situation when left to defend themselves ; hence originated that supplicating letter to
attended with success, the Britons called in the Saxons to their aid. By these new allies the Scots were defeated in a great battle, and their king, Dongard, successor to Eugene, drowned in the Humber, A. D. 457, which put a stop for some time to these excursions. Hitherto we have seen the Scots very formidable enemies of the southern Britons; but when the Saxons usurped the kingdom, and subjected those whom they came to aid, the Scots joined in a strict alliance with the latter; nor does it apnear that the league thus formed was afterwards broken.
Three centuries now pass without anything occurring calculated to interest the reader, or to throw light on the Scottish history, beyond what has been related in the history of England during the Heptarchy. In 787 we find that Achaius, king of the Scots, after quelling some insurrections, entered into a treaty of perpetual amity with Charles the Great, king of France and emperor of Germany, which treaty continued to be observed inviolably between the two nations, till the accession of James VI. to the thronc of England. The next remarkable event in the history of Scotland is the war with the Picts. Dongal, king of the Scots, claimed a right to the Pictish throne, which being rejected by the latter, they had recourse to arms. At this time the dominions of the Scots comprehended the western islands, together with the counties of Argyle, Knapdale, Kyle, Kintyre, Lochaber, and a part of Breadalbane, while the Picts possessed the rest of Scotland, and a considerable part of Northumberland. The Scots, however, appear to have been superior in military skill; for Alpin, the successor of Dongal, having engaged the Pictish army near Forfar, defeated them, and killed their king, though not without suffering great loss himself. The Picts then chose Brudus, the son of their former king, to succeed him, but soon after deposed and put him to death. His brother Kenneth shared the same fate. Brudus, who next ascended the throne, was a brave and spirited prince ; he first offered terms of peace to the Scots, which, however, Alpin rejected, and insisted on a total surrender of his crown. After vainly endeavoring to obtain the assistance of Edwin, king of Northumberland, Brudus marched resolutely against his enemies, and the two armies came to an engagement near Dundee. The superior skill of the Scots in military affairs was about to have decided the victory in their favour, when Brudus is said to have had recourse to stratagem to preserve his army from destruction. He caused all the attendants, female as well as male, to assemble and show themselves at a distance, as a powerful reinforcement coming to the Picts. This caused such a panic in the Scottish ranks, that all the efforts of their leader could not recover them; and they were accordingly defeated with great slaughter. Alpin himself was taken prisoner, and soon after beheaded.
Kenneth II., the son of Alpin, succeeded his father, and proved himself a brave and enterprising prince. Resolved to take a severe revenge for his father's death, he made the most vigorous preparations for war; and so well did he succeed, that, after many desperate conflicts, he became master of all Scotland, so that he is justly considered the true founder of the Scottish monarchy. He is also said to have been very successful against the Saxons, but of his exploits with those hardy and skilful warriors we have no accounts that can be depended on. Having reigned sixteen years in peace after his subjugation of the Picts, and composed a code of laws for the better regulation of his people, he died at Fort Teviot in Perthshire. Before his time the seat of the Scottish government had been in Argyleshire; but he removed it to Scone, by transferring thither the celebrated black stone supposed to be the palladium of Scotland, and which was afterwards removed by Edward I. to Westminster abbey.
In the reign of Donald, who succeeded his brother Kenneth, the Picis who had fled out of Scotland applied to the Saxons for assistance, promis:
ing to make Scotland tributary to the Saxon power after it should be conquered. This ended in a great victory on the part of the confederates, who became masters of all the country south of the Forth and Clyde ; it being agreed that the Forth should from that time forward be called the
Scots sea;" and it was made a capital offence for any Scotchman to set his foot on English ground. They were to éreot no forts near the English boundaries, to pay an annual tribute of a thousand pounds, and to give up sixty of the sons of their chief nobility as hostages. After the conclusion of this treaty, so humiliating to the Scots, the Picts, finding that their interests had been entirely neglected, fled to Norway, while those who remained in England met with a brutal death from their late allies.' Donald, having been dethroned and imprisoned, put an end to his own life; he was succeeded by his nephew Constantine, the son of Ken neth M'Alpin, in whose reign Scotland was first invaded by the Danes, who proved such formidable enemies to the English. This invasion is said to have been occasioned by a body of exiled Picts who fled to Denmark, where they prevailed upon the king of that country to send his two brothers to recover the Pictish dominions from Constantine. These princes landed on the coast of Fife; and though one of the armies was defeated by Constantine near the water of Levan, the king was himself defeated by the other, taken prisoner, and beheaded at a place called the Devil's Cave, A. D. 874. This unfortunate action cost the Scots 10,000 men ; but the Danes purchased their victory dearly, as they were obliged immediately afterwards to abandon their conquests and retire to their own country.
Constantine was succeeded by his brother Eth, surnamed the Swift footed, from his agility. He was succeeded by Gregory, the son of Dou
acquired the name of Great. The Danes at their departure had left the Picts in possession of Fife. Against them Gregory immediately marched, and quickly drove them into the north of England, where their confederates were already masters of Northumberland and York. In their way thither they threw a garrison into the town of Berwick ; but this was presently reduced by Gregory, who put all the Danes to death, but spared the lives of the Picts. He afterwards marched against the Cumbrians, whom he easily overcame, and obliged to yield up all the lands they had formerly possessed belonging to the Scots, at the same time that he agreed to protect them against the power of the Danes. In a short time, however, Constantine, the king of the Cumbrians, violated the convention he had made, and invaded Annandale, but was defeated and killed by Gregory near Lochmaben. After this he entirely reduced the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, which, it is said, were ceded to him by Alfred the Great, whose affairs were at that period anything but prosperous. Gregory next engaged in a war with the Irish, to support Donach, an Irish prince, against two rebellious noblemen. The first engagement after his landing in Ireland proved fatal to Brian, one of these chieftains, and he then reduced Dundalk and Drogheda. On his way to Dublin he was opposed by a chieftain named Corneil, who shared the fate of his friend Brian. Gregory then assumed the guardianship of the young prince he came to assist, appointed a regency, and obliged them to swear that they would never admit into the country either a Dane or an Englishman without his consent. Having placed garrisons in the strongest fortresses, he returned to Scotland, where he died in the year 892.
Donald III., the son of Constantine, succeeded Gregory; but his reign was short; for, having marched against a body of marauders, who had invaded and ravaged the counties of Murray and Ross, and subdued them, he soon after died, a. D. 903. He was succeeded by Constantine III., the son of Eth, the most remarkable event in whose reign was, that he enter
ed into alliance with the Danes against the English. This, hower er lasted but two years. As soon as Constantine had concluded the treaty with the Danes, he appointed the presumptive heir to the Scottish crown, Malcolm, prince of the southern counties, on condition of his defending them against the attacks of the English. He had soon an opportunity of displaying his valour, but, neglecting the necessary caution, his army was signally defeated, and he himself severely wounded. In consequence of this disaster, Constantine was obliged to do homage to the English monarch, Edward the Elder, for the possessions he had to the southward of the Scottish boundary.
Early in the reign of Athelstan, the son of Edward, the northern Danes were encouraged by some conspiracies formed against that monarch, to throw off the yoke ; and their success was such, that Athelstan thought proper to enter into a treaty with Sithric, the Danish chief, and to give him his daughter in marriage. Sithric, however, did not long survive the nuptials ; and his son Guthred, endeavouring to throw off the English yoke, was defeated and obliged to fly into Scotland. This event caused a series of hostilities between the Scots and English, which in the year 938 ended in a general engagement. At this time the Scots, Irish, Cumbrians, and Danes, were leagued against the English. The Scots were commanded by their king, Constantine; the Irish by Anlaf, the brother of Guthred, the Danish prince; the Cumbrians by their own sovereign; and the Danes by Froda. The generals of Athelstan were Edmund, his brother, and Turketil, his favourite. After an obstinate engagement, the confed. erates were defeated with great slaughter; the consequence of which was, that the Scots were deprived of all their possessions to the southward of the Forth, and Constantine, quite dispirited with his misfortune, resigned the crown to Malcolm, and retired to the monastery of the Culdees at St. Andrew's, where he died in 943.
The reigns of Malcolm, Indulfus, Duffus, and Cullen, present nothing worthy of comment; but a remarkable revolution took place in the reign of Kenneth III., who succeeded Cullen, A. D. 970. This prince commenced his reign by relieving the lower classes from the exactions and oppressions of the nobility, which had become intolerable. Without stating his reasons, he ordered the barons to appear before him at Lanark, where he had provided an armed host to take such of them into custody as he knew to be notorious offenders, and on the charges being substantiated, they were compelled to make restitution, or were punished in proportion to the magnitude of their offences. In this reign the Danes, who had previously been making attempts to invade England, landed at Montrose, and laid waste the country around. Kenneth finding that they were making rapid progress in his kingdom, and were then besieging Perth, resolved to give them battle. He is said to have offered ten pounds in silver, or the value of it in land, for the head of every Dane which should be brought to him, and an immunity from all taxes to the soldiers who served in his army, provided they should be victorious; but, notwith standing the utmost efforts of the Scots, their enemies fought so desperately, that Kenneth's army must have been totally defeated, had not the fugitives been stopped by a yeoman of the name of Hay, and his retainers, who were only armed with rustic weapons. The fight was now renewed with such violence on the part of the Scots, that the Danes were wholly defeated; and after the battle the king rewarded Hay with the barony of Errol, in the carse of Gowrie, ennobled his family, and gave them an armorial bearing alluding to the rustic weapons with which they had achieved this illustrious exploit. Kenneth, at length, in 994, met his death by murder, at the instigation of a lady named Fenella, whose son he had caused to be put to death. The throne was then seized by an Burper, named Constantine, who, being killed in battle after a reign of a