A Scottish force ravages NorthumberlandIn the spring, another Scottish army broke in upon Northumberland, again ravaged the principality of Durham, sacked the seaport of Hartlepool, and, after collecting their plunder, compelled the inhabitants to redeem their property and their freedom by a high tribute. Carrying their arms to the gates of York, they wasted the country with fire and sword, and reduced the wretched English to the lowest extremity of poverty and despair. Carlisle, Newcastle, and Berwick, defended by strong fortifications, and well garrisoned, were now the only cities of refuge where there was security for property; and to these towns the peasantry flocked for protection, whilst the barons and nobility, instead of assembling their vassals to repel the common enemy, spent their time in idleness and jollity in the capital.
An important measure, relating to the succession of the crown, now occupied the attention of the Estates of Scotland, in a parliament held at Ayr, on the 26th of April. By a solemn act of settlement, it was determined, with the consent of the king, and of his daughter and presumptive heir, Marjory, that the crown, in the event of Bruce's death, without heirs male of his body, should descend to his brother, Edward Bruce, a man of tried valour, and much practised in war. It was moreover provided, with consent of the king, and of his brother Edward, that, failing Edward and his heirs male, Marjory should immediately succeed; and failing her, the nearest heir lineally descended of the body of King Robert; but under the express condition, that Marjory should not marry without the consent of her father, and failing him, of the majority of the Estates of Scotland. If it happened, that either the king, or his brother Edward, or Marjory his daughter, should die, leaving an heir male, who was a minor, in that event Thomas Randolph earl of Moray was constituted guardian of the heir, and of the kingdom, till the Estates considered the heir of a fit age to administer the government in his own person; and in the event of the death of Marjory, without children, the same noble person was appointed to this office, if he chose to accept the burden, until the states and community, in their wisdom, determinethe rightful succession to the crown.