Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 443 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
SIR WILLIAM OF DOUGLAS (d. 1298), called "le hardi," Archibald's grandson, was the first formally to assume the title of lord of Douglas. After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander the Steward, he abducted from the manor of the La Zouches at Tranent an heiress, Eleanor of Lovain, widow of William de Ferrers, lord of Groby in Leicestershire, who in 1291 appeared by proxy in the court of the English king, Edward I., to answer for the offence of marrying without his permission. He gave a grudging allegiance to John de Baliol, and swore fealty to Edward I. in 1291; but when the Scottish barons induced Baliol to break his bond with Edward I. he commanded at Berwick Castle, which he surrendered after the sack of the town by the English in 1296. After a short imprisonment Douglas was restored to his Scottish estates on renewing his homage to Edward I., but his English possessions were forfeited. He joined Wallace's rising in 1297, and died in 1298, a prisoner in the Tower of London. His son, SIR JAMES OF DOUGLAS (1286-1330), lord of Douglas, called the " Good," whose exploits are among the most romantic in Scottish history, was educated in Paris. On his return he found an Englishman, Robert de Clifford, in possession of his estates. His offer of allegiance to Edward I. being refused, he cast in his lot with Robert Bruce, whom he joined before his coronation-at Scone in 1306. From the battle of Methven he escaped with Brace and the remnant of his followers, and accompanied him in his wanderings in the Highlands. In the next year they returned to the south of Scotland. He twice outwitted the English garrison of Douglas and destroyed the castle. One of these exploits, carried out on Palm Sunday, the loth of March 1307, with barbarities excessive even in those days, is known as the " Douglas Larder." Douglas routed Sir John de Mowbray at Ederford Bridge, near Kilmarnock, and was entrusted with the conduct of the war in the south, while Bruce turned to the High-lands. In 1308 he captured Thomas Randolph (afterwards earl of Moray), soon to become one of Bruce's firm supporters, and a friendly rival of Douglas, whose exploits he shared. He made many successful raids on the English border, which won for him the dreaded name of the "Black Douglas" in English households. Through the capture of Roxburgh Castle in 1314 by stratagem, the assailants being disguised as black oxen, he secured Teviotdale; and at Bannockburn, where he was knighted on the battle-field, he commanded the left wing with Walter the Steward. During the thirteen years of intermittent warfare that followed he repeatedly raided England. He slew Sir Robert de Nevin, the " Peacock of the North," in single combat in 1316, and in 1319 he invaded Yorkshire, in company with, Randolph, defeating an army assembled by William de Melton, archbishop of York, at Mitton-on-Swale (September 20), in a fight known as " The Chapter of Myton." In 1322 he captured the pass of Byland in Yorkshire, and forced the English army to retreat. He was rewarded by the " Emerald Charter," granted by Bruce, which gave him criminal jurisdiction over the family estates, and released the lords of Douglas from various feudal obligations. The emerald ring which Bruce gave Douglas in ratification of the charter is lost, but another of the king's gifts, a large two-handed sword .(bearing, however, a later inscription), exists at Douglas Castle. In a daring night attack on the English camp in Weardale in 1327 Douglas came near capturing Edward III. himself. After laying waste the northern counties he retreated, without giving battle to the English. Before his death in 1329 Bruce desired Douglas to carry his heart to Palestine in redemption of his unfulfilled vow to go on crusade. Accordingly Sir James set out in 1330, bearing with him a silver casket containing the embalmed heart of Bruce. He fell fighting with the Moors in Spain on the 25th of August of that year, and was buried in St Bride's Church, Douglas. Since his day the Douglases have borne a human heart in their coat of arms. Sir James was said to have fought in seventy battles and to have conquered in fifty-seven. His exploits, as told in Froissart's Chronicles and in John Barbour's Bruce, are familiar from Scott's Tales of a Grandfather and Castle Dangerous. His half-brother, Sir Archibald, defeated Edward Baliol at Annan in 1332, and had just been appointed regent of Scotland for David II. when he risked a pitched battle at Halidon Hill, where he was defeated and killed (1333), with his nephew William, lord of Douglas. The inheritance 'fell to his brother, a churchman, Hugh the " Dull " (b. 1294), who surrendered his lands to David II.; and a re-grant was made to William Douglas, next referred to.
End of Article: SIR WILLIAM OF DOUGLAS (d. 1298)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.