Sir James Douglas slays the Peacock of the North

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Douglas slays Neville  


Sir Robert Neville lived at Berwick c1317, close to the March where the lord Douglas was staying in the Forest, and had great hatred for Douglas, for he saw him so manfully increasing his territory more and more. Neville heard the folk who were with him speaking about the power of the lord Douglas, how valiant he was in fighting, and how often fortune smiled on him. Very soon he was furious at this and said, "What are you thinking about? Is there nobody of any merit except him alone? You esteem him as though he had no equal, but I promise before you here that if ever he comes into this land, he will find me near at hand. And if ever I can see his banner displayed for war, I will attack him, be assured, however bold you think he is."

Word of this promise was soon carried to Sir James Douglas, who said, "If he wants to keep his promise, I shall do something so that he will get sight of me and my company, and before very long, very close to him."

Then he collected his retinue, good men of great valour, and took the way one night in good order to the March, so that early in the morning, with all his company, he was before Berwick, and there he made his men display his broad banner. He sent some of his followers to urn two or three villages, ordering them to hurry soon against the villages, so that they would be at hand, ready to fight if need arose to drive their enemies back.

The lords Neville and Douglas met together right in the crush where the fighting was fiercest. Then there was a great battle between them; they fought fiercely with all their might, each striking mighty blows at the other.

But Douglas was the stronger, I know, and also more accustomed to fighting; he had set his heart and will to free himself of his enemy, until at last by a violent blow with great strength he killed Neville. Then he shouted his rallying cry and rushed so hard with all his following on the rest that a short while you could see their foes take to flight and they pursuing them with all their might. In the chase, Sir Ralph Neville, the baron of Hilton and others of great power were taken. Many were killed in the battle that had been thought worthy in their time.

From John Barbour's The Bruce (translation of lines 425-538)

With Thanks to author J. R. Tomlin.




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Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022