The English king opened the deliberations in a speech delivered by his Justiciary, Roger Brabazon, in which, after an introductory eulogium upon the godlike and regal attribute of justice, and the blessings attendant on the preservation of tranquillity, "he observed, that the sight of the great disturbances, which on the death of Alexander the Third had arisen in the kingdom of Scotland, was highly displeasing to him; on this account, and for the purpose of satisfying those who had claims upon the crown, and for the confirmation of peace in the land, he had requested its nobility to meet him, and had himself travelled from remote parts, that he might do justice to all, in his character of Lord Paramount, and without encroaching upon the rights of any man. "Wherefore," concluded the Justiciary, "our lord the king, for the due accomplishment of this design, doth require your hearty recognition of his title of Lord Paramount of the kingdom of Scotland."
This unexpected demand struck dismay and embarrassment into the hearts of the Scottish assembly. They declared their entire ignorance that such a right of superiority belonged to the King of England; and added, that at the present conjuncture, when the country was without its king, in whose presence such a challenge ought to be made, they could give no answer."By Holy Edward!" cried the King of England, "whose crown I wear, I will either have my rights recognised, or die in the vindication of them!"
"And to make this speech good," says Hemingford, "he had issued writs for the convocation of his army; so that, in case of his demand being resisted, he might conquer all opposition, were it to the death."
The representatives of the Estates of Scotland, who were well aware of hia, now found themselves placed in trying circumstances, and requested time to consult and deliberate with their absent members. Edward at first would give them only one day; but on their insisting that a longer interval was absolutely necessary, the king granted them three weeks, to prepare all that they could allege against his pretensions. This delay the king well knew would be productive of some good consequences towards his great scheme, and, at any rate, could not possibly injure his ambitious views. Before these three weeks elapsed, his army would meet him at Norham. He had already ensured the services of Fraser the regent ;and the money and promises which he judiciously distributed, had induced no less than ten competitors to come forward and claim the Scottish crown. In this way, by the brilliant prize which he held out to the most powerful of the nobility of Scotland, he placed their private ambition and their public virtue in fatal opposition to each other. All hoped that if they resigned to Edward this right of superiority, they might receive a kingdom in return; and all felt, that to rise up as the defenders of the independency of a country, which was then torn by mutual distrust and civil disorder; which was without a king, without an army, and with the most powerful of its nobility leagued against it, would be a desperate undertaking against so able a general, so profound a politician, and so implacable an enemy, as Edward. I do not say this to palliate the disgraceful scene which followed, nor to insinuate that any circumstances can occur which entitle the subject of a free country to sacrifice its independence; but to prove that the transaction, which was truly a deep stain upon our history, was the act not of the Scottish nation, or of the assembled states of the nation, but of a corrupted part of the Scottish nobility.