Gateway to the Classics: Scotland's Story by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Scotland's Story by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

The Reigns of Donald Bane, Duncan, and Edgar

Malcolm died in 1093 a.d. His son Edgar was still very young, so Donald Bane, who had fled to Ireland from Macbeth, now returned and claimed the throne.

Some of the Scottish nobles had been angry with Queen Margaret, because of her splendid court, and with King Malcolm, because he allowed so many Englishmen, whom they looked upon as weak and idle, to live and possess lands in Scotland. These nobles now gladly welcomed Donald Bane. They placed him upon the throne, and drove the English out of Scotland. All Malcolm's children also fled, and took refuge in England.

Donald Bane had scarcely reigned six months, however, when another prince called Duncan claimed the throne. Duncan defeated Donald Bane, and made himself King. But a year and six months later he was killed in battle, and Donald Bane again became King.

This time he reigned for three years, during which there was constant war and trouble. There was war between Scotsmen and Scotsmen, for many hated Donald Bane, and would not be ruled by him; there was war with England; there was war with the wild Northmen or Danes.

At last, tired of the unrest and trouble, some of the Scottish nobles sent messengers to Edgar, begging him to come to rule over them.

Then Edgar, who had no wish to fight, sent messengers to Donald Bane, asking him to give up the crown. "It is not yours, but mine by right," he said. "If you will yield the crown to me, I will gladly give you great lands and possessions, over which you shall be lord."

But Donald Bane, having once been King, had no mind to become merely a lord under his own nephew. So, instead of answering, he put Prince Edgar's messengers in prison, and then cut off their heads.

On hearing of this cruel and insolent treatment of his messengers, Edgar made up his mind to fight. Helped by his uncle Edgar, and by the King of England, he gathered an army and set out for Scotland.

One night as he marched northward, he rested at Durham, where his father, Malcolm, had built a great church. There he had a dream. It seemed to him that St. Cuthbert appeared and spoke to him in the night. "Fear not, my son," said the saint, "for God has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Take my standard from the church and carry it before your army, in face of your enemies. Then I will up and fight for you. Then your foes shall be scattered, and those who hate you shall flee before you."

When Edgar awoke he immediately told the dream to his friends, and they, taking the standard of St. Cuthbert from the church, carried it before the army.

The sight of the holy banner put such courage into the hearts of his soldiers, that they fought and conquered Donald Bane's great army. Donald Bane himself fled away, but he was pursued and brought back. Edgar, I am sorry to say, put out his eyes and cast him into prison, where he died.

Edgar was crowned at Scone with great rejoicing, and for nine years he reigned quietly and peacefully. Like his mother, Queen Margaret, he was very religious, and he built and restored several churches and monasteries.

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