The Brus by John Barbour


[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 causť
	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.

Book 19

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