Edward's mind was not slow to take full advantage of this unwise application ; and the death of the young queen, the divisions amongst the Scottish nobility, and the divided state of the national mind as to the succession, presented a union of circumstances, too favourable for his ambition to resist. The treaty of Brigham, although apparently well calculated to secure the independence of Scotland, contained a clause which was evidently intended to leave room for the pretended claim of the feudal superiority of England over this country; and even before the death of the Maid of Norway, Edward, in writs which "he took care should be addressed only to persons in his own interest, had assumed the title of lord superior of the kingdom of Scotland.
Fully aware of the favourable conjuncture in which he was placed, and with that union of sagacity, boldness, and unscrupulous ambition which characterized his mind, he at once formed his plan, and determined, in his pretended character of lord superior, to claim the office of supreme judge in deciding the competition for the crown. His interference, indeed, had already been solicited by the Bishop of St Andrews; there is reason also to suspect, from some mutilated and undated documents recently discovered, that Bruce and his adherents had not only claimed his protection at this moment, but secretly offered to acknowledge his right of superiority; but there is no authority for believing, that any national proposal was, at this time, made by the Scottish Parliament, requesting his decision as arbiter, in a question upon which they only were entitled to pronounce judgment. The motives of Edward's conduct, and the true history of his interference, are broadly and honestly stated, in these words of an old English historian: "The King of England, having assembled his privy council and chief nobility, told them, that he had it in his mind to bring under his dominion the king and the realm of Scotland, in the same manner that he had subdued the kingdom of Wales."