Famine in England and Scotland
In addition to the miseries of foreign war and intestine commotion, England was now visited with a grievous famine, which increased to an excessive degree the prices of provisions, and, combined with the destructive inroads of the Scots, reduced the kingdom to a miserable condition. A parliament, which assembled at London in January, (1314-15,) endeavoured, with short-sighted policy, to provide some remedy in lowering the market price of the various necessaries of life; and making it imperative upon the seller, either to dispose of his live stock at certain fixed rates, or to forfeit them to the crown —a measure which a subsequent parliament found it necessary to repeal.
The same assembly granted to the king a twentieth of their goods, upon the credit of which, he requested a loan from the abbots and priors of the various convents in his dominions, for the purpose of raising an army against the Scots.§ But the king's credit was too low, the clergy too cautious, and the barons of the crown too discontented, to give efficiency to this intended muster, and no army appeared. The famine, which had begun in England, now extended to Scotland; and as that country became dependent upon foreign importation, the merchants of England, Ireland, and Wales, were rigorously interdicted from supplying it with grain, cattle, arms, or any other commodities. Small squadrons of ships were employed to cruise round the island, so as to intercept all foreign supplies; and letters were directed to the Earl of Flanders, and to the Counts of Holland, Lunenburgh, and Brabant, requesting them to put a stop to all commercial intercourse between their dominions and Scotland—a request with which these sagacious and wealthy little states peremptorily refused to comply.