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The Douglas

Anecdotes Home




When King Robert I. died he exacted a promise from Sir James
Douglas to convey his heart to the Holy Land, where he had been on the
point of going when death arrested him. The party had reached Sluys, so far
on their way to Jerusalem, when Alonzo, King of Leon and Castile, at that
time engaged in war with the Moorish governor of Granada, Osmyn, sent to
demand the aid of Douglas; and by his oath as a knight, which forbade him
ever to turn a deaf ear to a call in aid of the Church of Christ, he was
obliged to attend to the summons. He fought with his usual heroism, till
the Moslems believed he bore a charmed life when they saw him rush into the
thickest of the fight and escape unwounded. But the Christian ranks
nevertheless began to give way; and to stem the flight the Douglas threw
the casket containing the king's heart into the _melee_, and rushed after
it, exclaiming, "Now pass onward as thou wert wont, and Douglas will follow
thee or die!" The day after the battle the body of the hero and the casket
were found by his surviving companions; and the squire of Douglas finding
it was impossible to convey it to Jerusalem, brought back the king's heart
to Scotland, and it was interred in Melrose Abbey.





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