Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sketches of Scottish History (last excerpt)

"Still," said Duke William,
" there are thousands
of the English, firm as rocks around their
king. Shoot upward, Norman archers, that your
arrows may fall down upon their faces."

The sun rose high, and sank, and the battle still
raged. Through all that wild October day the
clash and din resounded in the air. In the red sunset,
and in the white moonlight, heaps upon heaps
of dead men lay strewn, a dreadful spectacle, all
over the ground. King Harold, wounded with an
arrow in the eye, was nearly blind. His brothers
were already killed. Twenty Norman knights,
whose battered armour had flashed fiery and golden
in the sunshine all day long, and now looked silvery
in the moonlight, dashed forward to seize the
royal banner from, the English knights and soldiers,
still faithfully collected round their blinded king.
The king received a mortal wound, and dropped.
The English broke and fled. The Normans rallied,
and the day was lost.
Oh ! what a sight beneath the moon and stars,
when lights were shining in the tent of the victorious
Duke William, which was pitched near the
spot where Harold fell and he and his knights
were carousing within and soldiers with torches,
going slowly to and fro without, sought for the
corpse of Harold among piles of dead and the warrior,
woiked in golden thread and precious stones,
lay low, all torn and soiled with blood and the
three Norman lions kept watch over the field !

About two years after the Battle of Hastings
some of the fugitives, escaping from their country,
set sail for Scotland, and after a tedious and stormy
voyage in their small ship, effected a landing at a
place called St. Margaret's Hope near Edinburgh,
though what name it received previous to their arrival
is unknown. Noble looked the men, but sad.
There were three females accompanied them and to
whom the greatest courtesy was shown. Edgar
Atheling the true and rightful heir to the English
throne, was the name of the principal refugee. The
three ladies were his mother and two sisters Margaret
and Christina. They were on their way to
seek an asylum with Malcolm the Scottish King,
whom they had known in England, when he was
a lonely exile there. He received them all most cordially
and tenderly and shortly after married the
Princess Margaret, one of the two sisters of Edgar.
By this union was established for all dissatisfied
and exiled Saxons from England, in the reigns of
William the Conqueror and of his son William Rufus,
a sure haven of rest and asylum in Scotland at
Malcolm' s court and elsewhere, whence many of the
Lowland Saxon houses derived their origin and
amongst the rest the ancient House of Borthwick.
The first of this name had come with Hengist and
Horsa from their Saxon Woods and he and his
successors had firmly stood by the Saxon dynasty
during its continuance on the throne of England
and when that house was overthrown by Normandy's
great son, Andreas Borthwick accompanied Edgar
Atheling and his two sisters to Scotland and
thus planted the House of Borthwick on the waters
of Borthwick not many miles from Edinburgh the
"borough of Edwin" its ancient founder.


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