Death of Edward Bruce

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXI

But a reverse was even then at hand. An Anglo-Irish army was formed, headed by the Earl of Kildare; famine added its dangers; and on the 1st of May Robert Bruce returned to Scotland, leaving his brother, Edward, with the Earl of Moray, to contend, as best they could, against the twofold enemy. In 1318 a good harvest relieved the country in some measure from one danger; two Cardinals were despatched from Rome to attempt to release it from the other. On the 14th October, in the same year, the question was finally decided. An engagement took place at Faughard, near Dundalk. On the one side was the Scotch army, headed by Bruce, and assisted (from what motive it is difficult to determine) by the De Lacys and other Anglo-Norman lords; on the other side, the English army, commanded by Lord John Bermingham.

The numbers on each side have been differently estimated; but it is probable the death of Edward Bruce was the turning point of the conflict. He was slain by a knight named John Maupas, who paid for his valour with his life. Bermingham obtained the Earldom of Louth and the manor of Ardee as a reward for Bruce's head; and the unfortunate Irish were left to their usual state of chronic resistance to English oppression. The head of the Scottish chieftain was "salted in a chest," and placed unexpectedly, with other heads, at a banquet, before Edward II. The English King neither swooned nor expressed surprise; but the Scotch ambassadors, who were present, rushed horror-stricken from the apartment. The King, however, was "right blyth," and glad to be delivered so easily of a "felon foe." John de Lacy and Sir Robert de Coulragh, who had assisted the said "felon," paid dearly for their treason; and as they were Anglo-Normans, and subjects of the English crown, the term was justly applied to them, however cruel the sentence. They were starved to death in prison, "on three morsels of the worst bread, and three draughts of foul water on alternate days, until life became extinct."