THE CLAIM OF SCOTTISH LIBERTY

the agents of Edward's rule were tyrannical and the Scottish people rose in revolt, not under any of the great nobles, but under a small independent landowner, William Wallace. Wallace himself, with unconscious lack of logic, justified what Edward called rebellion as the defence of the rights of his lawful sovereign, the King of Scotland, rights which that sovereign had never legally claimed. When he had freed Scotland temporarily the gentry and the commons of Scotland and the rank and file of the Scottish church sought to make him king, but he refused, although he took the title of regent. This was an assertion the great landed nobility could not admit, and their " treachery," legal though it was, ruined the cause of Scottish independence, and sent Wallace himself to a felon's death in London.

But here we have novel conceptions. First, that there is something called Scotland which is above the king, and then there follows the conception of its " rights," which its king ought to defend, because they are the title, as it were, to his royal rights, which the people of Scotland, unversed in niceties of feudal law, will defend if he does not. And there also emerges as a doctrine that theory of national liberty as a fundamental divine right which no man may gainsay. Eventually an Anglo-Scottish nobleman, Robert de Bruce, claimed the Scottish throne against his overlord, repudiating feudal ties, because only by such repudiation and by the right of the sword could he hope to win it. He ended the English claims at Bannockburn (1314). The Pope, the only fount of international law, had interfered on more than one occasion on not very legal grounds; finally, having issued a decision, he threatened a rebellious land with what the modern world would call " sanctions." In reply there came the famous answer of the Scottish parliament, which placed liberty above legal judgment, a note which, echoing through William Tell to Joan of Arc, sounds over a dozen hard-fought fights and was to swell into the triumphant assertion of liberty by Luther.

The reaction on England resulted in the creation of as strong a feeling of nationalism there as in Scotland. When Edward III. arrayed his thin lines at Crecy (1346), he arrayed not a royal army, not a feudal levy, but an English army burning to fight and conquer, not for the sake of any valid or invalid claims of the monarch to the throne of France, but for a similar mysterious entity called England that rose above the king and claimed men's allegiance. Edward was still the feudal king, and feudal kings were to continue till the Wars of the Roses wiped the feudal lords out and paved the way for Tudor absolutism, but feudalism had met and lost to its deadliest foe, local patriotism, the sense of the land, the sense of nationalism.