The King's Marriage

Fortunately the patriotic arguments of the Earl of Menteith prevailed. The Bishop of St Andrews girded the king with the belt of knighthood, and explained to him the respective oaths which were to be taken by himself and his subjects, first in Latin, and afterwards in Norman French.They then conducted the boy to the regal chair, or sacred stone of Scone, which stood before the cross in the eastern division of the chapel. Upon this he sat: the crown was placed on his head, the sceptre in his hand; he was invested with the royal mantle; and the nobility, kneeling in homage, threw their robes beneath his feet. A Highland sennaohy or bard, of great age, clothed in a scarlet mantle, with hair venerably white, then advanced from the crowd; and, bending before the throne, repeated, in his native tongue, the genealogy of the youthful monarch, deducing his descent from the fabulous Gathelus. It is difficult to believe that, even in those days of credulity, the nobility could digest the absurdities of this savage genealogist.

Henry the Third, at this time influenced by the devotional spirit of the age, had resolved on an expedition to the Holy Land; and in order to secure . tranquillity to his dominions on the side of Scotland, the marriage formerly agreed on, between his daughter Margaret and the young Scottish king, was solemnized at York on Christmas day, with much splendour and dignity. The guests at the bridal were the King and Queen of England; Mary de Couci queen-dowager of Scotland, who had come from France, with a train worthy of her high rank ; the nobility, and the dignified clergy of both countries, and in their suite a numerous assemblage of vassals. A thousand knights, in robes of silk, attended the bride on the morn of her nuptials; and after some days spent in tournaments, feasting, and other circumstances of feudal revelry, the youthful couple, neither of whom had reached their eleventh year, set out for Scotland. "Were I," says Mathew Paris, in one of those bursts of monastic eloquence which diversify his annals, "to explain at length the abundance of the feasts, the variety and the frequent changes of the vestments, the delight and the plaudits occasioned by the jugglers, and the multitude of those who sat down to meat, my narrative would become hyperbolical, and might produce irony in the hearts of the absent. I shall only mention, that the archbishop, who, as the great Prince of the North, showed himself a most serene host to all comers, made a donation of six hundred oxen, which were all spent upon the first course; and from this circumstance, I leave you to form a parallel judgment of the rest.In the midst of these festivities, a circumstance of importance occurred. When Alexander performed homage for the lands which he held in England, Henry, relying upon the facility incident to his age, artfully proposed that he should also render fealty for his kingdom of Scotland. But the boy, either instructed before-hand, or animated with a spirit and wisdom above his years, replied, "That he had come into England upon a joyful and pacific errand, and that he would not treat upon so arduous a question without the advice of the states of his kingdom upon which the king dissembled his mortification, and the ceremony proceeded.

Alan Durward, who, as High Justiciar, was the Scottish king's, chief counsellor, had married the natural sister of Alexander; and, during the rejoicings at York, was accused, by Comyn earl of Menteith and William earl of Mar, of a design against the crown. The ground on which this accusation rested, was an attempt of Durward, in which he was seconded by the Scottish chancellor,to procure from the court of Rome the legitimation of his wife, in order, said his accusers, that his children should succeed to the crown, if the king happened to die without heirs. From the ambitious and intriguing character of Durward, this story probably had some foundation in fact, and certain persons who were accused, actually fled from York; upon which Henry made a now appointment of guardians to the young king, at the head of whom were placed the Earls of Menteith and Mar.

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