April, 1291 York
King David II Dunkeld
It was done, York had fallen, and the last bastion of his uncle’s power within northern England had fallen. The battle had been fierce and bloody, they had suffered a fair few losses, but nothing compared to the losses that the English had suffered. David was proud, proud of his men and himself. They had done something that no Scottish King had dreamed of doing since his namesake the first King David had done when England had been torn fighting itself. David ponders this, his uncle had always been a strong king, David knows this, knows his uncle had near complete control over his lords, and yet somehow he had won this war, he knew he had won it, knew it in his bones. He was thankful, so very thankful that it had ended, if he were being honest with himself, he was not sure if he could deal with another battle, this one had taken much out of him and the relief of knowing it was over, was palpable.
As he looks at the men gathered within the solar, the solar that had been used by the English commanders before the battle, he senses that there is relief in them as well. For though they might talk about more conquests, realistically, how much longer they could have gone on is not something any of them wishes to discuss. He takes a moment to gather his thoughts and then he says. “My lords, we have done something none of our forebearers could have dreamed of. We have taken York and we have made her Scottish. She is ours, just as surely as Northumbria is ours, and for that, I thank you. Without you, fighting alongside me, this would never have happened. It is with great pleasure that I, name this conquest done. Now, I would hear of the reports of battle.”
William, his old friend, and now confirmed as Lord High Constable speaks. “The fighting was fierce and bloody, as you know my King. And yet, the English as has been the course during the course of this war, suffered more losses than we did. Their two main commanders Earl John of Surrey, and Earl Humphrey of Hereford are dead, slain during the fighting. There are prisoners that were taken and the leader amongst them is one Baron Hastings, a relation to the Lord of Badenoch.”
There is a moment’s silence, and David sees something akin to tension in the Young Lord Of Badenoch’s shoulders, but then it passes. “And, who else have we taken prisoner during the course of the battle?”
“One Roger Mortimer, brother I believe of the Baron Mortimer who was slain during the course of a previous battle. And numerous other lords and their soldiers, who might fetch a hefty ransom.” William says.
David nods. “Very good, and what of my other uncle the Earl of Lancaster, he has been transferred here has he not?”
John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch speaks then. “He has Sire. He is being kept within one of the lesser rooms within the castle as befits his station. Is there anything you wish done with him?”
David considers a moment and then says. “No keep him within his rooms for now. When we are done here, I shall go and speak with him. He shall be sent to London to ensure the rulers there know our terms.”
There is some murmuring at this, and Gilbert de La Hay, Lord of Errol asks. “Is that a wise move Sire? Edmund Crouchback is a fierce fighter, and a good commander. If he is let out of your sight, could that not prompt others to renew the cause of their king in the south?”
David considers this and then looking at Lord Robert of Annandale he says. “King Edward is dead, is he not my lord of Annandale?”
The old man, surprised at the question nods. “He is Sire.”
David turns back to look at De La Hay, and responds. “There you have, it the boy who now sits the throne is just that, a boy. The English have suffered grievous losses to their leadership, they are in no fit state to continue fighting us. Not with King Philippe of France closing in on their possessions within France. Now, what of our own losses. How many of our own good men died?”
William speaks then. “William De Keith, the Earl Marischal died Sire. He died commanding the host that stormed the northern gate. Other casualties include, John Comyn the Earl of Buchan, who died commanding the southern pass. Other than that, there are no more notable losses sire. We lost many men on the field of battle, but they contributed toward the overall victory.”
David nods, and then looking at the Lord of Annandale, says. “And what of you my lord of Annandale. I know you were aware of your son the traitor’s presence within the English army, what became of him?”
A long silence follows this, and just as David is about to ask the question once more, the Lord of Annandale speaks. “He is dead Sire. I and my grandson Robert came across him during the course of the battle. I wounded him and Robert slew him. The traitor is dead.”
A long silence and then David says. “My condolences for your loss my lord. But now that the stain of treachery has been removed from your family, we might move on toward discussing the terms that shall be put before the rulers within London.” He pauses and then looking at his lords one by one, says. “We have fought long and hard for the conquest we have made, it does not do us right to see these lands not properly recognised. Therefore, it is my desire that we send forth an envoy, namely my uncle Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, and do thereby state that all lands from the wall of Hadrian, southward to the borders of York, belong to us. From this day forth we shall ensure that they belong to the crown of Scotland, and that those whom we have given titles within this kingdom, are sworn to the crown of Scotland.”
There is a moment of silence and then John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch speaks. “I believe, that these are fair and just terms Sire. The English would be foolish to disagree considering the fact that you hold the advantage.”
A silence and then Lord Robert adds his voice. “I agree with my lord of Badenoch Sire, these are most just terms. The English cannot in good conscience disregard these terms, knowing as they do that they are behind here.”
Murmurs of approval go out on this matter, and then David says. “Very well, it is settled then. Now there is one more thing that I wish to discuss.” He pauses then, looking at Comyn and Bruce equally in turn. “For many years now, there has been a rivalry between two houses and their allies. A rivalry that started because of something that happened during the fighting within England. This is something that I do not agree with, I believe that the time for these petty grievances be put to rest. And so, I do ask that Lord Robert, and Lord John do come forth and swear the oaths of eternal friendship.”
There is a long silence as the men within the solar look at the two lords in question, a silence that stretches on for a long time, longer than David feels is truly necessary, and yet, and yet eventually it is Comyn who stands up and moves towards Bruce, his hand out stretched. “I know that in the past our two families have been at war, but now for the good of the kingdom we both do so love, I am willing to place this behind us both if you are as well my lord.”
Silence and then Lord Robert stands. He clasps Comyn’s hand and says. “I too am willing to put the past where it should belong. For the good of the kingdom, we shall not allow our old rivalry get in the way of future benefit.”
Both men shake hands and embrace, and then David stands and clasps both men on the shoulders and says. “Let us bear witness to the ending of a rivalry. Peace is now the main stay within the lands of Alba. Let this meeting end with this showing of good faith.” The earls and lords within the room stand and congratulate Bruce and Comyn, David watches for a while, but then walks out of the room, and moves towards where Comyn had told him before that his uncle was being kept. He nods to the guards at the door and then enters the room. His uncle looks haggard, a year or more of imprisonment it seems does not agree with his uncle. He stands before him and then says. “How are you uncle?”
“What is it you want King David? Have you come to gloat about your triumphs?” his uncle asks.
David feigns hurt. “I have not come to gloat before you Uncle. I have merely come to speak with you. It has been many years since I saw you last, and so now I have come to inform you of the things of this kingdom.”
His uncle looks at him and asks. “So you have achieved that which you wanted, and that your father talked of then have you? The kingdom of Northumbria is yours once more?”
David nods. “It is indeed mine. And for now the power of the throne in England is greatly weakened, and shall not be strengthened any time soon.”
His uncle looks at him briefly, and then responds. “Edward will not long abide that, he shall make sure that the lands are brought back under English control soon enough.”
David sighs then. “You do not know? Of course, how could you know? You have been kept a prisoner for most of the war.” He pauses a moment, unsure of just what to say, and then he says. “Uncle Edward is dead, slain during the fighting here.”
There is a moment’s silence and then his uncle Edmund says. “So that is that then is it? One uncle dead, how soon before you see to my fate as well?”
“I do not mean to see you killed uncle.” David responds patiently. “I mean to see you sent south toward London, to serve as my envoy. You shall present the terms that I have made to the regents within London and you shall make them see reason and have them agree to those terms.”
His uncle stares at him then. “And what makes you think they will agree to that? The regents in London will be stubborn, Queen Eleanor more so.”
“They have no valid commanders anymore, and furthermore, you will make them see why it is worth their while to agree to my terms.” David responds.
“So De Bohun and De Warrene are dead are they?” his uncle asks. “A shame really, I would have liked to see you fighting them, to see whether they were truly worth their mettle.”
David looks at his uncle and then says simply. “They were not good enough to survive.” A pause and then. “One more thing uncle, you shall have a choice, either remain as Earl of Lancaster and do fealty to me, or lose your earldom and remain part of the English kingdom.”
His uncle looks at him surprised. And then he responds. “When do I leave for London?”
“Tomorrow,” David replies. “You have until sunrise tomorrow to decide what you wish to do.” With that he turns and walks out of the room knowing his uncle will have a restless night.
May, 1291 London
Queen Dowager Eleanor Plantagenet
Her worst fear had come true, Edward, her love, her husband, her king, was dead. Slain during the fighting at York, slain by his nephew’s hand, some tales told, others said he was slain fighting some northern savage or the other. She mourned her husband, she wanted to cry out, wondering why he had gone on that mad charge into York, but knowing all the same why he had done it. Pride, and honour, those were the two things that would have made her husband do what he had. His death now meant that their son Edward, who was only seven years old, was now King of England, an England that was greatly reduced, and might well see more war if she agreed to the terms of the treaty King David of Scotland, was proposing. She looks at the treaty and then at her brother in law, Sir Edmund, and she wonders at what is on his mind.
Eventually she speaks. “The terms, tell us the terms once more my lord of Lancaster.”
Her brother in law looks somewhat discomforted but he speaks all the same. “By right of blood and conquest, King David, second of that name, King of Scotland and Prince of Northumbrians, does hereby claim the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. He furthermore, demands that his possession of this kingdom be recognised by King Edward second of that name, King of England. That, the kingdom of Northumbria, belong solely to him, King David, independent of any fealty whatsoever to London. And furthermore, that those earldoms that were created within that kingdom, by King David, be recognised as legal and valid as well. In return for this recognition, King David does promise to end all hostilities toward the crown of England.”
Eleanor feels a mixture of anger, sadness and nervousness and the words, hearing them for a second time does not make it any easier than when she heard it for the first time. She looks at her brother in law, and then at the advisors around the table and says. “He has made clear his demands, the question is how do we respond?”
A moment’s silence and then Robert Burnell, Lord Chancellor speaks. “To acquiesce to these demands without making some of our own, would make the crown look grievously weak Your Highness. To do so without putting in demands that would benefit us as well, well that would make it seem as if there is no fight left within the crown. Other lords might well get ideas.”
“And what demands do you propose we make Lord Chancellor?” Eleanor asks. “What demands can we make that we can realistically back up with a force of arms? Our commanders are dead or prisoner, our forces are most buried within the ground of the north. We have no power left with which to fight on.”
The Lord Chancellor is silent a moment and then he says. “There are lords within Ireland who would be more than willing to create trouble for those lords within Scotland who have lands in Ireland Your Highness. Send word to De Burgh, to those of that ilk, and make them see how it would be worth their while, call them to come here, continue the fighting if you wish. But there are demands that could be made.”
Eleanor considers this. “The deaths of the Earl of Hereford, and the Earl of Surrey mean that there are children holding their titles. The Lord High Constable is but a boy of thirteen, not suited toward fighting another war. The Earl of Norfolk died during the campaign as well. We cannot realistically make threats of violence against the boy, when we do not have the means to make good on such threats.”
Another long silence and then Hugh De Cressingham, who had sat on this council for the duration of the war says. “There is one card that could be played Your Highness. Seeds of dissent could be sown, if one were to make use of the fact that the Bruces were so willing to slay their own father and son to ensure that they were made good with the king. Tyranny would be perceived, and as such, could cause trouble. And furthermore, the people of the north, never sit well under Scottish rule.”
“The Bishop of Durham remains in power as well, for the time being Your Highness.” Her brother in law says. “If David wishes to make a statement he can, but he will run the risk of offending those with power in the sees of Glasgow and St Andrews as well as York itself. He is treading a fine line, pressing on that point, could make it somewhat easier to negotiate with him.”
Eleanor considers this then. “Send word to the Prince Bishop of Durham, and tell him that if he wishes to he could make his home in London for a time. King David might hold the north, but unless he wins over the love of the people he shall not hold it for much longer.”
Her brother in law nods. “And what do you wish the response to be regarding his terms?”
Eleanor smiles then. “Tell him we accept the terms, but he cannot stand in the way of peaceful resettlement for those who do not wish to live under his rule in the north. And Edmund, what have you decided yourself?”
Her brother in law looks at her a moment and then says. “I will fight for King Edward Your Highness, and I will make sure we regain those lands that were taken from us.”
“Good, for there has been troubling tidings from France as well. It seems King Philippe, is not content with the towns he holds, and insists on pressing forward. You will be needed there soon enough.” Eleanor responds.
Her brother in law nods and says. “It would be my pleasure to ensure the French king doth fall before his sword and end with a sword through his bowels as should have happened to him long ago.”