Critical situation of Bruce
This murder had been perpetrated by Bruce and his companions in the heat of passion, and was entirely unpremeditated; but its consequences were important and momentous. Brace's former varying and uncertain line of policy, which had arisen out of the hope of preserving, by fidelity to Edward, his great estates, and of seeing his rival crushed by his opposition to England, was at once changed by the murder of which he had been guilty. His whole schemes upon the crown had been laid open to Edward. This was ruin of itself; but, in addition to this, he had, with his own hand, assassinated the first noble in the realm, and in a place of tremendous sanctity. He had stained the high altar with blood, and had directed against himself, besides the resentment of the powerful friends and vassals of the murdered earl, all the terrors of religion, and the strongest prejudices of the people.
The die, however, was cast, and he had no alternative left to him, but either to become a fugitive and an outlaw, or to raise open banner against Edward; and, although the disclosure of his plana was premature, to proclaim his title to the crown. Having determined on this last, he repaired immediately to Lochmaben castle, and despatched letters to his friends and adherents. It was fortunate for him at this trying crisis, that he had secured the friendship and assistance of the Archbishop of St Andrews, William de Lamberton, by one of those bands or covenants, which, in this age, it was considered an unheard-of outrage to break or disregard. Lamberton's friendship, disarmed of its dreadful consequences that sentence of excommunication which was soon thundered against him, and his powerful influence necessarily interested in his behalf the whole body of the Scottish clergy.